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J R Soc Med. 2004 September; 97(9): 453.
PMCID: PMC1079599

The Epidemiological Approach

Reviewed by Mark Hohenberg

Nicholas J Wald
86 pp Price £8.95 ISBN 1-85315-58-5 (p/b)
London: RSM Press.

Modern medicine is founded on epidemiological concepts but epidemiology itself tends to be unpopular with medical students. Despite efforts to brighten the teaching, many students still find the subject tedious and hard to grasp. For these, I recommend The Epidemiological Approach, which Professor Wald originally wrote for students in his own school (Barts). Its small size belies the wide-ranging content, and the style of writing is engaging. All the major areas of epidemiology are covered—from study design to birth and death patterns—and his explanations of concepts such as relative risk, likelihood ratio and prevalence are coupled with easy-to-follow examples and advice on how to calculate as well as interpret them. Statistical analysis of raw data is dealt with briefly but broadly. The subject matter even includes death certification—a task feared by many a new house officer. With its focus on the basics, its perfect balance of information and its readability The Epidemiological Approach is a book that no medical student should be without.

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press