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Practicing evidence-based child health. By Meates M, Duperrex O, Gilbert R, Logan S, Straus SE (editor). (Pp 208, hardback; £25.) Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press, 1999. ISBN 1 85775 410 7
In order to learn how to practice evidence-based child health many people go on expensive, enjoyable week long escapades to places as far flung as Oxford, London, or Newcastle. Imagine if the core of these curricula was condensed into a book, graced with a pink cover and available to those without a spare $3600 in their education budget …
It's actually possible to get much of the information contained in this book free from the internet (see the Toronto CEBM, run by Dr Sharon Straus and colleagues:http://www.library.utoronto.ca/medicine/ebm/) but the beauty of print should be ease of use and quality of reproduction. (Don't you hate the way that web pages, on printing out, split paragraphs and mess up tables?) Yet that strength is this book's only real problem. Where you would expect crystal clear reproductions, you get bad photocopies. Where you would expect to look at a table (in the excerpts of “How to Practice and Teach EBM”) you actually need to turn the book upside down! It is difficult to imagine how a publisher could let this leave the printers. On the other hand, the chance to be taken through nine separate studies by acknowledged experts in the practice and teaching of EBCH is to be welcomed. In choosing examples, all triggered by real patient situations, there are the obvious (steroids help in croup), the interesting (it was my glue ear that gave me these behavioural problems), and the controversial (“that” albumin paper!). The speciality areas covered range from prenatal care to paediatric surgery, and include community paediatrics—there's something for everyone here.
The pack consists of a tutor's manual containing worksheets, the papers under study (and a commentary for each one), and “tutors' notes”. The worksheets are standard and useful. The tutors' notes are fairly scanty, added more as hints from experienced teachers to those out working in the wilds than step-by-step instructions. “Learner packs” are also available containing everything apart from the tutors notes and papers.
So, as a pack to be used by the moderately experienced practitioner, it can save many hours of toil searching, copying, and collating information. It isn't (district tutors be aware!) a substitute for the jaunt to Oxford or London, but it's a great way of introducing a wide range of people at your institution to the process of EBCH and perhaps encouraging a few more to want further development.