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Child and adolescent psychiatry, 4th edition
  1. M A Griffiths

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Edited by Michael Rutter and Eric Taylor. Blackwell Publishing, 2003. Hardback, £99.50, pp 1186. ISBN 0 632 05361 5

It’s bigger, but is it better?

For me and my colleagues the answer is certainly, “Yes”.

Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) now has all four editions of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “the child psychiatrist’s bible”, from the first edition, 1997 (Shorter Oxford Dictionary size); to the second edition, 1985 (phone directory size); the paperback third edition, 1995 (Yellow Pages size, plus); and now this, the fourth edition, 2002, which is almost Data Sheet Compendium size. These awesome dimensions and the task of reviewing it (“you’ll have to read it, you fool” said a colleague) was somewhat off putting, but now that we’ve opened it and used it we do not want to be without it.

This book is the ultimate child and adolescent psychiatry textbook and a must have for any district hospital or postgraduate library. The sort of emotional behavioural and developmental problems encountered by paediatricians in hospital and in the community, in the interface between paediatrics and psychiatry, are covered in sufficient detail to be of real use to the clinician, whether he is going it alone or has the luxury of cross referral. The authors are experts in their fields, mainly eminent child and adolescent psychiatrists or psychologists from both sides of the Atlantic, but there are contributions from paediatricians in the chapter on soiling, for example.

Perhaps there is too much detail for the exam driven paediatrician in training, but then some only seem to grasp the value of developing some psychological frameworks later in their careers. Neither is this a quick fix alternative to the psychological component of the DCH and here again I suspect the size factor is likely to intimidate. Even SHOs in adult psychiatry who are now required by the Royal College to spend six months in child and adolescent psychiatry may be deterred and reach for a more MCQ orientated text in order to pass their exams.

For a hard pressed CAMHS team this book provides both the academic substrate and the clinical detail to be of real value in many everyday clinical scenarios. The reference lists are excellent and up to date and the index works, so that we have already checked out and accessed clinical information and papers we have been meaning to chase but never got round to. The new and esoteric stuff seems to be there as well as the genuine advances we have heard about on CPD days, such as the guidelines for assessment and treatment of childhood depression, clinically useful rating scales, and developments in the management of ADHD and autistic spectrum disorders, using an evidence based approach wherever feasible. What I have read I have found fascinating and so it seems that, in this electronic age, there is still a place for a comprehensive reference book on the department shelf.

Much of all this is new and just not in the 1995 edition, which is why the book is so big and why your library should buy it.