Dr Dean Whitehead
This is the first time, in the pages of JCN, that we have had the opportunity to review a series of titles at one sitting. Most are nursing-related but one title covers midwifery. All of the above titles are handbooks published through the stable of Oxford University Press (OUP). They are essentially handy, pocket-sized guides for a variety of health practitioners working in certain disciplines. I would argue, however, that their accessibility means that they are not just applicable to practitioners working in those particular disciplines. This is particularly so with some of the texts. For instance, the handbook on nurse prescribing is a well-written text relevant to anyone who is involved in drug administration – and not just those prescribing them. Three of the texts are edited texts while the other two are co- authored. This does not, however, make any difference to format or levels and style of contribution.
The advantages of these texts are mostly in their structure and format. They are what they say they are: portable, pocket-sized handbooks with concise summary information and pre- sented in an easy-to-read and accessible format. They are particularly handy as a quick ‘dip-in and dip-out’ reference. All handbooks are produced in a blue/black format. Finally, each text copy has at least one handy ribbon page marker. Where there are more, they are different colours to aid the marking of different sections and to assist with quick refer- ence.
There are a few shared limitations to these texts. Some, however, may view these limitations as actual benefits – depending on the readers’ interests, style of learning or levels of retention. For instance, all texts tend to focus on symptom or systems-based manage- ment. Therefore, they lean far more towards an illness rather than a wellness or positive health orientation. Most of the content is presented in a ‘bullet- point’ style. While some might appreci- ate the ease and convenience of this summarised information, others may find themselves wanting more detailed information. As a UK-based publishing house, this OUP series tends to favour UK-based resources. Nearly all web- linked resources are UK-based national or regional sites. It would have taken little effort to add a more international context to these sources. Both the chil- dren’s nursing and midwifery texts are accompanied by numerous diagrams to support their written information – but the other nursing-related texts are not complemented in the same way. An- other observation relates to the mental health text. Its number of pages is substantially less than most the other books and only marginally more than the nurse prescribing text. I personally would have thought that this discipline has a lot more to say for itself than it does in this handbook.
Overall then, all of the above titles can be recommended to those health practitioners who work in specific fields and outside of them. It would be costly although for an individual to purchase all titles separately – if all the reader wished to do was gain an appreciation of issues affecting all the different disci- plines. For this task, it would perhaps be better to purchase a general comprehen- sive medical/surgical text. The flip-side of these although is that they are usually far from being portable. Individuals would probably be best-served just pur- chasing one or two titles relating to their main areas of interest or speciality. At an institutional level though, subscribers would not go far wrong in purchasing all of them as a general resource for their students and practitioners. All titles are priced the same.