Title: Contemporary Health Studies: An Introduction
Author: Warwick-Booth, Cross & Lowcock
Publisher: Polity Press, 2012
Reviewer: Dr Jo Wilson, healthcare services
What was it like?
The book provides an excellent introduction to the many facets of health studies. It is split into three clearly defined parts with a total of 13 chapters debating and using concepts of health. It clearly identifies and cross references the key components and where to look for further reading. The key areas in part 2 are in the disciplinary context of health promotion, sociology, anthropology and psychology, which are well integrated and provide good basic information to promote further interest and reading in these key areas. There is also a decent glossary to enhance understanding of terminology. Part 1 provides a basic understanding of health and is well set up with up to date key references and perspectives of other authors. The Dahlgren and Whitehead determinants of the health rainbow provide a useful framework for conceptualising health, which is well explained and used throughout the book.
Part 3 discusses the influences of health on the individual, society, the environment and the global context of health, as well as how governments and policies can influence health and society. A useful reference book, which provides easy-to-locate information for various aspects of behavioural sciences including health and public health studies.
What were the highlights?
The authors creatively manage to demonstrate evidence-based practice through their systematic approaches in debating contemporary health issues. A particularly important highlight was looking beyond blaming the individual and deviant behaviour the authors examine reasons for behaviours such as binge drinking, obesity and so on. and revising lay understandings in the context of how experts and lay perspectives can differ.
Strengths & weaknesses:
The chapters within the book clearly set out key learning outcomes, learning tasks, questions for reflection and debate and use case studies to summarise the main arguments and the application to lay and professional perspectives. The book is well illustrated with tables, figures, photographs and box summaries. There are some areas of potential overlap but the chapters are clearly cross-referenced and do help to further enhance knowledge. The book provides a good introductory textbook for undergraduate health-related courses with individual, societal and global context of health studies.
Who should read it?
I recommend this book to all health professionals, students of health studies, public health and behavioural sciences.