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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 October; 61(10): 926.
PMCID: PMC2652978

Applied epidemiology. Theory to practice, 2nd edn

Edited by Brownson RC, Petitti DB. 384: Published by Oxford University Press, 2006, $59.95 (05) (hardback), ISBN 13: 978-0-19-518741-0, ISBN 10: 0-19-518741-5

Applied epidemiology is not a classical book on epidemiology. This text focuses on areas of public health practice in which the systematic application of epidemiological methods can have a large and positive impact. It describes how best to apply traditional epidemiological methods for determining disease aetiology to “real‐life” problems in public health and health services research. Topics covered in this book highlight the multidisciplinary nature of epidemiology.

Each chapter includes a summary and one or more case studies intended to illustrate major points from the chapter and to provide a basis for teaching exercises. All of the chapters are authored by leading experts in the fields of epidemiology and public health.

The authors present epidemiology as a foundation of public health. Some of the historical contributions of epidemiology are described and the most pressing current issues encountered in the application of epidemiological methods are discussed. The authors underline the importance of public health surveillance, and describe selected sources and data collection activities as well as outbreak and cluster investigations. Highlighting the importance of systematic reviews in public health, they provide a real‐life perspective on systematic reviews, including some of the challenges involved and some of the areas in which there are differences of opinion among experts about potential solutions, and with particular focus on population‐based studies. More classically, two chapters concern the risk assessment and epidemiological issues in community interventions. The chapter on outcomes research identifies some of the major limitations that arise from the uses of administrative and clinical data routinely collected for outcomes research. The methods for assessing the quality of health care are discussed. A detailed analysis of several systems designed to measure the performance of organisations on clinical measures of quality such as indicator systems is exposed. The role of the government, purchaser/employers and regulatory and accrediting bodies in developing clearing houses of quality measures is summarised. There are also chapters dedicated to the links between epidemiology and health policy and between epidemiology and the law. The different ways in which epidemiology may influence health policy are described, with the welcome reminder that “epidemiology can provide an important basis for many health policies; however, health policy development is complicated and should not be based solely on epidemiologic data”. Finally, the last chapter proposes a framework for epidemiologists to communicate information to non‐scientists and addresses several leading strategies used to communicate epidemiological information to improve the health of the public.

Easy to read and well written, this book is intended for practitioners as well as for students in epidemiology and related disciplines that rely on epidemiological methods and reasoning. It is a practical and informative book for use in academic institutions, state and local public health agencies and health care organisations.


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