Book review – “Geriatric Medicine: An Evidence Based Approach”

9780199689644_450Philip Braude is an ST6 in Geriatric Medicine, specialising in perioperative medicine.

Geriatric Medicine: An Evidence Based Approach, edited by Frank Lally and Christine Roffe, is written by an eminent list of international experts condensing key and often difficult issues in modern geriatrics to chapters of a few pages. It aims to be a “clinical reference for health care professionals” but is certainly not a comprehensive geriatric medicine text.

 

In 16 chapters the book takes the reader from the development of geriatrics and service provision, through the evidence for a few sub-specialties including frailty, dementia clinics, stroke care and depression, finishing with two excellent chapters on public and patient involvement in research. It is unclear why the book omits common geriatric topics such as falls, delirium, rehabilitation, nutrition, movement disorders and palliative care. However, it does include some less commonly tackled issues such as substance abuse, sleep and pain in older people.

The common theme between chapters is the liberal use of references to help the reader explore topics in greater depth, but each author’s approach to their chapter is different; some provide insight into how evidence has shaped a speciality, leading the reader to understand which areas are prime for further investigation, whilst others are more didactic such as the chapters on therapeutics or continence. There is also no uniform presentation structure; for example boxed information is sometimes used to summarise every few pages or to highlight important papers or quotations. Diagrams are infrequent. I was disappointed to find no accompanying website for collation of the many excellent resources, references and weblinks. I hope the editors will consider this for future editions.

Geriatric specialists will certainly find many useful references, and generalists will discover gems of inspiration from the history of geriatrics and suggested future areas of reading. It is not a book pitched as an introduction to geriatrics for new healthcare professionals as it does require some background knowledge of the field.

In summary, each chapter is succinct enough to provide an excellent overview of evidence and a platform for further reading. I have come away with a list of papers that I wish to read, and the book has challenged some of my understandings of clinical practice, service development and research. The book moves geriatric medicine beyond Isaac’s “giants” and “simply caring for the elderly”, into a complex and subtle specialty, backed by a wealth of evidence.

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