’This book would make an ideal resource for anyone working/managing in public health arenas’
Title: Health Improvement & Well-Being: Strategies for Action
Editors: Frances Wilson, Alan Massey and Andi Mabhala
Publisher: Open University Press
Reviewer: Ed Shields, nurse lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast
What was it like?
Along with the three editors, there are four other contributors to this book; they are all of an academic and/or public health background and this lends a feeling of expertise in this informed and well written book. It is packed with serious information and extremely well supported with references to academic work and government policies and reports on public health issues over the past twenty years. While there is a focus on UK issues, there is also important reference to international, global issues in relation to health and well-being. In doing this, the book maintains a well organised and useful structure throughout; each chapter deals with introductions and background information, deals with definitions and theoretical perspectives, and offers case studies pertinent to the topic in hand. There are helpful figures and tables throughout as well.
Readers will find what, for some, may be a useful return to some issues (such as health, health improvement and well-being) while others may be new. Either way, readers will find useful and well developed information about social and health inequalities, lifespan, life style and environmental influences on health and well-being. There is even a section later in the book on commissioning and evaluation strategies for measuring outcomes that may be of use to managers working in public health settings.
Collectively, the writers argue that health improvement and well-being should be seen as requiring a specific set of public health skills and that health professionals should have an awareness of factors that improve health and well-being. They present a cogent and informed position that inequalities in health present a major public health problem. This is an important book.
What were the highlights?
There is effective use of case studies and thinking points, which have the effect of causing the reader (me, at any rate) to pause and think about some of the issues and material just read. It also helps to ponder how some of the theory is applied in real situations.
Strengths & weaknesses:
The book contains a large amount of useful reference to web based sources, national and international. A reader who wants to pursue any of these issues will be well signposted. Although not intended as a criticism, I found a few of the illustrated figures a little involved and complicated.
Who should read it?
This book would make an ideal resource for anyone working/managing in public health arenas; anyone studying at Master’s level in any subject with a public health module/s. Professionals working in community settings will also find useful information here. Undergraduate nursing students may find parts of this book a very useful resource so perhaps teachers should consider it for their students.