Title: Chronic disease in the twentieth century: A history
Author: George Weisz
Publisher: John Hopkins University Press.
Reviewer: Jane Brocksom, urology & continence nurse specialist, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
What was it like?
This book is at times sociological or philosophical, yet mostly an historical journey through the twentieth century of chronic disease. It is a dry read but equally informative, it focuses on the US in terms of healthcare but does have a fascinating section on UK (and French healthcare). The book has two sections – chronic disease in the US and secondly chronic disease in UK and France. Each section sub divided into chapters with the book ending with an epilogue.
What were the highlights?
I enjoyed the section on UK healthcare mainly as it was the most relevant to me but all chapters of the book had interesting and pertinent points to raise. The US bias is made clear but comparing and contrasting US and UK healthcare systems is interesting reading, this adds to the books depth and qualities on “maladies chroniques”. The 10 chapters are long but subdivided and each chapter finishes with a conclusion. Chapters include – expanding public health; almshouses, hospitals and the sick poor; new deal and the national health survey; long term care; public health and prevention; health, wealth and the state and alternative paths in the United Kingdom.
Strengths & weaknesses:
While it does appear comprehensive, it took from 2005/6 to 2014 to write and publish, there is no bibliography or further reading section, which disappoints although the notes section is comprehensive. The introduction and epilogue are great at scene setting and summing up, if in-between gets a bit dry.
Who should read it?
This is an academic read, written by a well qualified and hugely informative Professor of Social Studies and Medicine at McGill University in Quebec. At times this book is a struggle to read and understand. I guess if your studying healthcare policy or public health understanding this book may be included in your academic reading.