Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction

Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction

Article excerpt

Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction By Rodolfo Saracci. Published by Oxford University Press, 2010. Paperback 144pp. Price £7.99. ISBN 978-0-19- 954333-5.

Against a plethora of epidemiology textbooks ranging from detailed reference manuals to quick and easy guides, this small 145-page book looks different. It is conveniently compact, fitting comfortably into a pocket. It also makes a comfortable read, sometimes being more of an epidemiological narrative than a traditional textbook.

An absorbing history of epidemiology is included, from Hippocrates to the present day. Saracci traces the development of epidemiology using numerous examples, such as how Louis used statistical evidence to show that the common practice of bloodletting was ineffective, Snow's investigation into the mode of cholera transmission and Virchow's promotion of public health as a social science. The author describes how 'epidemiology fulfils the same diagnostic functions for the health of a community as a doctor's consultation does for the individual'.

The book is well organized and well written, explaining key epidemiological subjects as well as several statistical areas. Unlike many textbooks, chapters do not bear the names of individual study types - randomized controlled trials, for example, appear in a chapter called 'Testing how to control a disease'. …

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