A contribution to the History of Epidemiology:
History of epidemiologic methods and concepts"
Editor : Alfredo Morabia
Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland, 2004
Price: $ 119.00 or 98 Euros
Available from: Birkšuser
, Verlagslieferung Balmer,
and Noble , Springer
Reviews by Gene Pezzola, Miquel Porta, Herman van Oyen and John
S. Marr MD "tgkameron"
Porta in European Epidemiology Association Newsletter [PDF]
Samet in American
Journal of Epidemiology 2005 161(6):604-605
van Oyen Sozial-
und Pršventivmedizin/Social and Preventive Medicine, Volume
50, Issue 3, Jun 2005, Pages 186 - 187 [PDF]
Beaglehole in Bulletin
of the World Health Organisation 2005; 83 (7): 556
Bernabeu-Mestre in Journal
of Epidemiology and Community Health 2005;59:1102 [PDF]
J McMichael in Statistics
in Medicine 2005; 24:3679-80 [PDF]
A History of Epidemiologic Methods and Concepts edited by A. Morabia
Biometrics 2006;62 (1): 303–303.
Gariepy, Thomas P. A History of Epidemiologic Methods and Concepts (review)
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences - Volume 62, Number 1, January 2007, pp. 117-119
S. Marr, MD, The
Epidemiology Monitor Newsletter July 2005
Epiphanies in the arts and sciences are often deceivingly simple
and beg the question as to why no one had conceived of the idea
before. A History of Epidemiologic Methods and Concepts, edited
by Alfredo Morabia, exemplifies this proposal. Clearly, this book
would have been hungrily consumed by students decades ago, and
cited by their professors who wished to provide a historicity
to epidemiology. In all probability (no p value given here) the
book is destined to become required reading for those entering
the field of epidemiology, and a joy for those already immersed
in it. It is also unlikely to become outdated, but as its editor
cautions, epidemiology like all sciences (and arts) will continue
to evolve in future years.
is a text on the epistemiology of epidemiology -- a process that
began in the eighteenth century and was refined in the Victorian
era. Descriptions of its forefathers’ concepts (Farr, Graunt,
Lind, Snow), are followed by methods used by their descendants
(Goldberger, Frost, Hill), and were refined by many more recent,
distinguished epidemiologists (many of whom have contributed to
the book). Fascinating vignettes on some of the historical figures
are provided, as well as an occasional allusion to Biblical and
classical sources to illustrate a point. There are also some droll,
behind-the-scenes observations on who really developed what, as
well as the when and where of their observations.
The book is
divided into two Parts. Part I has four historical themes: the
evolution of population thinking (rates, ratios and proportions),
group comparisons (study types, bias, sampling, causal inference),
epistemology, and a precis of epidemiology’s evolutionary
phases. The second Part is a collection of classic, historical
papers annotated by commentaries given by nearly a score of internationally
known epidemiologists. (Space here does not permit a listing of
these, but Amazon.com:books provides a valuable peek at the complete
index where it has received five-star reviews. This site should
be consulted by prospective buyers).
of Epidemiologic Methods and Concepts is heady reading, but for
those who enjoy intellectual confection treats, it is a rare,
wonderful, and addicting read. It will be read, re-read, and referred
to many times in one’s career and should be find a special
place in a person’s library.
Methods, just as diseases or scientists, have their own
history. It is important for scientists to be aware of the genesis
of the methods they use and of the context in which they were
book has two parts. The first part presents the evolution of
epidemiologic methods and concepts. It serves as introduction
and synthesis to the second part which is a collection of papers
originally published in Social and Preventive Medicine (International
Journal of Public Health).
book has a place in the curriculum of students of epidemiology,
because students may reach a better understanding of the methods
and concepts when these are presented in their evolutionary
context. Methods and concepts get refined when we are facing
challenges that cannot be met using state-of-the-art approaches.
These are situations of crisis that cry for innovative ideas.
They provide great didactic examples.
historical or scientific contexts in which innovation occurs
may therefore be unique to understand the purpose of new approaches.
As time goes by, successful innovations are formalized, become
more abstract and their original purpose can sometimes be lost
of sight in the process, especially for a person that discovers
to use this book?
In order to facilitate the usage of this book for teaching purposes,
an index of keywords is provided, which connects
the entire content of the volume. In addition, the references
of the two parts of the book have been grouped into a single
bibliography section. I will try to make available
additional material, including historical datasets, on the www.epidemiology.ch,
choose history, either directly or through web links.
the table of content of "History of epidemiologic methods
of contents is available as a pdf