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Epidemiology Book Corner 

  Epidemiology Related Books  

When the first edition of EPISOURCE: A Guide to Resources in Epidemiology was published in 1991, readers of the Epidemiology Monitor suggested a list of novels and non-fiction titles to include in which epidemiology was featured or otherwise played a prominent role.  We reprise that list here, along with the comments readers provided on them as an addition to this on-line resource to subscribers.  In the years since the list was first compiled, many new books in which epidemiology was featured or plays a prominent role have been written.  We invite you to suggest those you feel are appropriate for inclusion on list.  Please use the submission form provided below.

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Book  of the Month



Epidemiology and The People's Health

Nancy Krieger



This month  we are pleased to publish an exclusive interview with Nancy Krieger, the author of Epidemiology and the People's Health.

Exclusive Interview
With Nancy Krieger

1. What type of book is Epidemiology and the People's Health? How would you categorize or describe it briefly in comparison to textbooks in epidemiology?

The book is a critical intellectual history and analysis of epidemiological theories of disease distribution, past and present. Its central argument is that epidemiologic theory -- itself influenced by the societal and ecologic context in which it is conceived -- has long shaped epidemiologic practice, knowledge, and the politics of public health.

Unlike most other epidemiology text books, which focus primarily on epidemiologic methods, this book asks us to consider the theoretical frameworks that motivate our research and the methods we employ. As discussed in the first chapter of the book, only a small fraction of contemporary epidemiologic textbooks include any text about epidemiologic theories of disease distribution, let alone the importance of theoretical frameworks to scientific research; it is this gap that my book is intended to address.

In its 8 chapters, the text accordingly delves first into what counts as scientific theory and why this matters, drawing in insights from work in the history and philosophy of science. It then traces and analyzes the history and contours of epidemiologic theories from ancient societies on through the development of -- and debates within -- contemporary epidemiology worldwide. Examples discussed range from critical analysis of ancient classical texts of Greek Hippocratic humoral theory and Chinese medicine to current oral traditions of the Kallawaya in the Andes and the Ogori in Nigeria, on through contrasts between contemporary dominant biomedical and lifestyle theories of disease distribution and the different schools of social epidemiologic theories: sociopolitical, psychosocial, and most recently, ecosocial.

Finally, to bring home the real-life consequences of epidemiologic theory, the last chapter offers four contemporary case studies of how people's health has been harmed -- or helped -- depending on the epidemiologic theory employed. For "harm," case examples are: (1) hormone therapy, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer, with iatrogenic disease resulting from biomedical disregard for social determinants of health; (2) peptic ulcers, H. pylori, and allergies, contrasting psychosocial and biomedical extremes; (3) diabetes and Indigenous health, tracing theorizing from "thrifty genes" and racialized disease to reckoning with the transgenerational biological embodiment of social and ecological injustice; and (4) the impact of curtailing and depoliticizing relevant timeframes for analyzing temporal trends in health inequities. For "help," they are: (a) improving public health surveillance systems; (b) exposing discrimination as a determinant fo health inequities; and (c) new national policies and global recommendations.

Looking ahead, the book argues that the science of epidemiology can be improved by consciously embracing, developing, and debating epidemiologic theories of disease distribution.

Click to Read Full Interview>>


        2011 The Epidemiology Monitor

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