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Covers women's special health concerns, and describes the purpose and side effects of drugs
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According to Ehrenreich and English in their book, For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women (Anchor, 1978), "In 1972, a women's health movement--composed of women health workers, community activists, and dissatisfied health care consumers--was taking form as a distinct feminist force." Today, women's health issues are a focal point in medical research, public policy, and the political arena. From the publishers of the nation's leading professional drug reference, The Physician's Desk Reference, comes a source that will quickly become a "must have" for libraries. The guide is the second in the publisher's consumer series. It is divided into two major parts. An overview of the diseases and disorders that threaten women constitutes the first part of the book. They are arranged into sections: the reproductive system; general health concerns (heart disease, AIDS, headaches, plastic surgery); fertility and family planning, pregnancy, menopause; emotional problems (stress, depression, eating disorders); and cancer.
The second part provides readers with detailed information on medicines their doctors are most likely to prescribe. Readers will appreciate the presentation of information in an easy-to-read format. Entries for each drug include the reasons why it is prescribed, how the medication should be taken, side effects, possible food and drug interactions, special information for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and recommended dosage. A "Drug Identification Guide" in the beginning of the book includes color photographs of pills. Appendixes include a directory of support groups, a glossary of common words in women's health, and information on safe medication use. A disease and disorder index is followed by a general index. Finally, a list of sources rounds out the volume. The guide is heavily illustrated with drawings and useful sidebars, tables, and charts.
Shortcomings of the guide merit attention, although they do not compromise the Board's recommendation of this source. The specific health problems of women of color or HIV-positive women are not adequately covered. Black women would be better served by works that look directly at the health issues that confront them, such as The Black Women's Health Book (Seal, 1990). Similarly, HIV-positive women will find the Gynecological Care Manual for HIV Positive Women (Essential Medical Information Systems, 1993) a much-needed reference. A second shortcoming is less obvious, yet equally significant. The subject of sexual health is buried in the guide. Readers interested in obtaining the essential facts for a safe, healthful sex life will be frustrated. A final shortcoming is the book's organization. Diseases and disorders in the first part are arranged from a medical perspective, not from a woman's perspective. An alternative arrangement might have been the one used in a recent popular source, Woman, Your Body, Your Health: The Essential Guide for Well-Being (Harcourt/Harvest, 1990).
Competition is provided by Facts On File's A-to-Z of Women's Health, now in its second edition (1989), which literally goes from abnormal presentation to zygote intrafallopian transfer with concise, straightforward information. It can often be found on the bookshelf next to the recently updated Our Bodies, Our Selves (Simon & Schuster, 1992). By and for women, this tome covers relationships and sexuality, fertility, childbearing, growing older, common and uncommon health and medical problems, and women and the medical system.
None of these books bills itself as a substitute for a clinical examination. Each serves to raise facts and questions that merit further discussion. The PDR Family Guide to Women's Health joins these standard works in encouraging women to take responsibility for their health by becoming aware of available care and treatment. All librarians (high school and up) will want to make room for this title in their reference collections.From Library Journal:
The publishers of the Physician's Desk Reference are now producing guides for lay readers. This one for women includes good, basic advice on premenstrual syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, contraception, menopause, cancer, mental health, and nutrition. It also includes a handbook of medicines arranged alphabetically by brand name containing brief information about the indications, use, and side effects of common prescription and nonprescription drugs. A color drug identification guide, table of drug risks in pregnancy, and referral lists complete the book. This guide is less comprehensive than The New Our Bodies Ourselves (LJ 2/1/93) or The Complete Drug Reference (LJ 6/1/91). Although not detailed enough for reference use, it is a good addition to circulating collections in need of general books on women's health.
Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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