Women's Health Guides

By Miner, Meg | Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Women's Health Guides


Miner, Meg, Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources


Jo Ann Rosenfeld, ed., HANDBOOK OF WOMEN'S HEALTH, 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 352p. bibl. illus. index, tables, pap., $60.00, ISBN 978-0521695251.

Rose S. Fife & Sarina B. Schrager, ACP HANDBOOK OF WOMEN'S HEALTH Philadelphia: American College of Physicians Press, 2009. 619p. bibl. illus. index, tables, pap., $64.95, ISBN 978-1934465103.

Jane L. Delgado, THE LATINA GUIDE TO HEALTH: CONSEJOS AND CARING ANSWERS. New York: Newmarket Press, 2010. 208p. index, pap., $15.95, ISBN 978-1557048547 (English); ISBN 978-1557048554 (Spanish: Guia de Salud: Consejosy Respuestas para la Mujer Latina).

Miriam E. Nelson & Jennifer Acker-man, THE STRONG WOMEN'S GUIDE TO TOTAL HEALTH New York: Rodale Books, 2010. 432p. ill. index. $27.99, ISBN 978-1594867798.

The fight for equal rights for women may be over a hundred years old, but in medical research, women have only been treated equally since the 1990s. That is also the time that evidence-based women's health handbooks started to appear. Up to that point, most studies only included recommendations for women that had been deduced from analyses of men's responses to clinical trials.

Four new publications on women's health synthesize recent findings to varying degrees. Rather than generalizing studies of men to women, they ground their understanding of influences on women's health in research that does not end with biological differences, but instead begins by acknowledging the social and behavioral differences between the two sexes as well. Two of these publications are designed specifically for healthcare professionals while two are primarily for consumers, but healthcare providers could also benefit from the consumer guides, and institutions training professionals for the field will want to consider the attributes of each.

Guides for Practitioners

In the introduction to the second edition of the Handbook of Women's Health, editor Jo Ann Rosenfeld outlines ways women have been marginalized in medical research, also asserting that factors other than gender are relevant to women's health outcomes. Each chapter makes clear the connection of its topic to women's roles in society, but Rosenfeld also warns against making across-the-board assumptions about women: "Women's immunology, drug use and metabolism may differ and may affect the treatment of diseases," she says, "However, there are more differences among women, making easy conclusions difficult" (p. 6).

The cover of the 2009 edition (the first was published in 2001) claims that this update "incorporates the latest evidence and research findings on a wide range of problems." Most chapters have a lengthy reference list; however, many of the citations predate even the first edition, and more are from the 1990s than might be expected. For example, Chapter 24 on coronary heart disease contains 107 references, but only 27 of the cited sources were published after 2001 (pp. 276-281).

Healthcare professionals in the United States are the audience for this volume. The cover description states that more contributors have been added since the first edition; in fact, half" of the contributors are new, although there are two fewer contributors overall. Thirteen of the twenty-nine chapters are by Rosenfeld herself, and she co-wrote three others. All contributors are in the United States and are medical doctors or have doctorates in other disciplines.

A disclaimer on the copyright page says that the publisher is not responsible "for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet websites." This reasonable limitation is asserted in all four of the resources reviewed here, but only this one goes on to say it "can make no warranties that the information contained herein is totally free from error, not least because clinical standards are constantly changing through research and regulation." Perfection is not expected, but a higher level of confidence in the finished work might be! …

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