Public Health & Preventive Medicine is in its ninth decade of existence since being first published in 1913, and it therefore contains much of the lore of public health and preventive medicine over the twentieth century. With each edition, selecting the appropriate information to include has become increasingly difficult for several reasons. Nearly all the same public health and prevention themes and issues continue to be with us, and new knowledge, research, and practice information for public health and preventive medicine grow at a rapid rate. New diseases are being discovered and our knowledge of existing ones is constantly being refined and expanded. New microorganisms of public health import continue to be discovered and new conditions of public health importance have emerged. Behavioral science has helped us better understand how to promote healthful, hygienic behaviors and better educate our citizens and patients. Science and engineering have created occupational and other environmental exposures never before experienced. The increased survivorship of the populations of industrialized nations has heightened the importance of degenerative diseases, complex medical care programs, and the opportunities for prevention of disease. The population growth of our finite and frail planet may be causing present and future public health dilemmas that are not, yet, completely understood. There has been increasing attention to the social and “unnatural” causes of human suffering and the recognition of human conflict as a public health problem. The increased convergence of public health practice and the delivery of clinical health services has created and elevated several topics that must be given some prominence.
Every attempt has been made to update the information and acquire new knowledge in this fifteenth edition of Public Health & Preventive Medicine. Although several new topics have been introduced in this edition, inevitably certain issues could not be fully considered. In particular, to keep this textbook at a reasonable size, there is somewhat less emphasis on the issues of developing countries and some topics worthy of extended length have been shortened. Some of the chapters have been adapted from those in the fourteenth edition, usually in situations where the previous author was unable to participate again. Full credit for the preserved portions of previous editions is not possible, but can be found by perusing those editions. Although the majority of the more than 200 contributors to this textbook are from North America, most of the themes presented here have universal application and the lore comes from scientists and practitioners worldwide.
Robert B. Wallace, MD, MSc
Iowa City, Iowa