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Edited by Tracy Batchelor and Merit E Cudkowicz (Pp 374, £65.00). Published by Butterworth Heinemann, Boston, 2001. ISBN 0750670428
This useful book gives an overview of the epidemiology of neurological disease. It is not fully comprehensive but this is to be expected in a relatively short book of just over 300 pages. It begins with four useful chapters on epidemiological methods, statistical principles, clinical trials, and measurement scales. These are fairly sketchy in parts but provide a worthwhile summary of the general principles.
The coverage of the epidemiology of neurological disease is good, with individual chapters on the 12 most common neurological syndromes and diseases, including back pain, headache, head injury, and sleep disorders, each of which is sometimes ignored in books of this kind. However, there are no chapters on muscle disease or peripheral neuropathy.
The book is rather US oriented. The editors admit in the preface that their “focus was limited to adult neurological diseases occurring in the US.” However, in these days of international research collaboration and electronic communication, it is somewhat disappointing to find that only 2 of the 31 authors were from outside North America. The authorship was also dominated by Boston based clinicians and academics, who accounted for over 60% of the authors. Harvard certainly has a strong tradition of high quality epidemiology but a more varied authorship might have provided a broader perspective. There is also a tendency in several of the chapters for the research that is discussed and referenced to be US based.
Nevertheless, the book does provide a useful overview of the epidemiology of most of the neurological diseases that are common in the developed world. It would therefore be of use to the general neurologist or to the non-clinical neuroscientist with an interest in the clinical burden of neurological disease.