Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Epidemiology for Behavioral Sciences

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Epidemiology for Behavioral Sciences

Article excerpt

Merrill, R. M., Frankenfeld, C., Mink, M., & Freebome, N. (2016).

Behavioral Epidemiology. Principles and Applications.

Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

ISBN 978-1-4496-4827-5. Paperback, pp. 296; $95.95.

A need has long existed for a textbook in behavioral epidemiology, which the present text is attempting to fill. It is trying to bridge the linkage between behavioral and social sciences and epidemiology. Very few programs in United States offer a course in behavioral epidemiology. Now that we have a textbook we might see some more programs that offer this important course and more students that become trained in this area.

The book is organized into 10 chapters. The Preface starts with stating the primary aim of the book as, "to advance the field of public health by providing epidemiologic tools to behavioral scientists and behavioral context to epidemiologists." The first chapter is an introduction to epidemiology and behavioral sciences. Most of what is written in this chapter the student should already have learned in an introductory course in public health; I found it not very inspiring. There are no course objectives, however the chapter is summarized in numbered points. Most references are old with only one as recent as 2014.

The second chapter is titled "Behavioral Sciences Research." It gives an overview of the types of research studies in behavioral sciences, including research on behavioral processes, biopsychosocial research, research on methodology and measurement. The authors also introduce the field of behavioral psychology. Other topics in the chapter include group influences on behavior, health behavior in the workplace, health behavior affected by larger systems, linking health behaviors with health outcomes, and adjunct areas of research. The case study about tobacco control efforts in the US is useful. Once again most of the references are dated.

The third chapter is about health behavior and theory. The authors have attempted to introduce behavioral theories in this chapter but the discussion is not in depth. Accounts of behavioral theories are very brief and perfunctory. For interpersonal theories, only one example each of community level theories and planning models are provided. Most students taking this course should already be familiar with the behavioral theories. It would have been more useful if the authors had elaborated on how behavioral theories are used in research, and had described how to develop instruments and interventions based on behavioral theories. Most references are more than 10 years old.

The fourth chapter is about determinants of behavior. Some of the topics include cause and effect, what is a behavioral determinant, and types of behavioral determinants. Once again the information is very basic and most graduate students would already be familiar with the concepts presented in this chapter. How to conduct epidemiological studies is missing from this chapter.

The fifth chapter is about behavioral epidemiological research. It covers the standard topics that an introductory research methods book in health promotion would cover but lacks any amount of depth which such a book would have. …

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