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  • Writer's pictureChristie Roberts

Useful Rescources for Public Health

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Hello! Long time, no post. Life has been chaotic, but within all that chaos... I finished the first year of my master's in Public Health! I thought I was going to drop out midway thrrough second semester because I'd been so poorly and then take a year out whilst I recuperated (you can read more about that here) and I was incredibly proud to finish the year on an average of 82%, and I'm beyond glad that I didn't end up taking any time out- that much closer to graduating and exploring the world of PH! With that in mind, I wanted to share the books that gave me a huge helping hand.

For context, the modules I took last year were:

  • Foundations in Public Health

  • Data Analysis and Interpretation (stats)

  • Epidemiology

  • Public Health Policy

  • Advanced Health Promotion

  • Communicable Diseases

Many of these books helped across multiple modules, which is why I bought them instead of getting them from the library. Plus, I tend to work better when I can highlight and scrawl my thoughts throughout the book, and not every book is available as a print book at the library and I really don't do well with reading off screens for too long.

Without further ado...

Kawachi, I., Lang, I., Ricciardi, W. (eds) (2020) Oxford Handbook of Public Health practice. 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This is a neat little book that provides a comprehensive introduction to key concepts in public health, like policy cycles, assessing public health needs, introductions to research methods and epidemiology, planning and commissioning healthcare services and more. It's definitely not something you can just skim through, it does require quite a lot of concentration to read. But if you can get your head in the game, it gives a nice oversight to a lot of PH fundamentals and has good suggestions for references and further reading. I'm a glutton for an Oxford Handbook, but would say that this book is non-essential. Doesn't impact on the benefit of flicking through to understand some of the more practical aspects of implementing public health though!

Marston, L. (2010) Introductory Statistics for Health and Nursing Using SPSS. California: Sage Publishing.

Obviously, this is for stats. And I know it's from 2010, but honestly, SPSS does not really change. I used this alongside tutorials from Bloomsbury Online Resources and it provided such clear walkthroughs of all the statistical tests I needed, plus their strengths and weaknesses. Off the top of my head, I used chi-squared, independent samples t-test, one way ANOVA and multi-linear regression. I'd never worked with stats like this, or seen SPSS before, so I really appreciated the way this was laid out so clearly. When they say 'introductory', they really do mean it!

Aschengrau, A., Seage, G. (2014)). Essentials of Epidemiology in Public Health. 3rd edition. Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

I credit this book for getting me 96% in my epi exam. Combined with fab teaching from my lecturer (shout out to Sarah), and the book below, I felt like I had such a solid grasp of epidemiology, and as a result, loved this module!. The warning we got at the start was that this was a great book, but written at a higher level for what we needed for our epi module. I disagree- I thought the book was written really accessibly, with clear descriptions, diagrams and examples, for literally every aspect of epidemiology you could need. There were also good practice questions, which helped me so much in preparing for my exam.

Coggon, D., Rose, G., Barker, D. (2003) Epidemiology for the Uninitiated. 5th edition. London: BMJ Publishing Group.

I can firmly say, before I started my epi module, I was absolutely uninitiated. Afterwards, it's probably one of my favourite areas of public health. Despite this book being quite old now, the fundamentals of epi don't really change and I did find that some things that were explained poorly in other sources were wrapped up really nicely in this little book (and I mean little, it's only 73 pages!). Worked well for triangulating the other sources of info I'd been learning from to make sure I understood it thoroughly, such as info from the Catelogue of Bias.

Michie, S., Atkins, L. & West, R. (2014) The Behaviour Change Wheel: a Guide to Designing Interventions. Sutton: Silverback

A bit less of a public health focused book, but so useful nonetheless. I used this model in both my Foundations module, and in Advanced Health Promotion as both of these involved considering behaviour change and developing interventions. However, I had a weird deja vu feeling because I realised I had absolutely used this model during my undergrad nursing degree. If nothing else, it's a really interesting model for exploring behaviours, the factors that feed into them, and the steps involved in changing them. I probably didn't need to buy this one because there's a lot of online resources that explain the Behaviour Change Wheel effectively, but I knew I would need it for multiple modules (and will probably end up using the COM-B model that forms part of the BCW as a theoretical model in my dissertation) and I liked being able to flick between different parts of the book to draw the model together.

Green, J., Cross, R., Woodall, J., Tones, K. (2019) Health Promotion Planning and Strategies. 4th edn. California: Sage Publishing.

I liked this book because of how detailed it was in covering so many aspects of health promotion, and the combination of theoretical and practical information. It is a big book, but structured and written really nicely in an understandable way. It takes you through fundamentals of health promotion, determinants of health, planning of heath promotion strategies, needs assessments, healthy public policy and more. It had lots of spaces for critical reflections, which I didn't make use of, but I think this will remain useful once I've graduated and begin working within PH.

In this academic year (2023-24) I'm only doing Applied Research Methods and my (dreaded) dissertation. I'm sure I'll find more useful books on theory relating to research methods, research design, and conducting systematic reviews (and I'll be sure to update this post with any gems I find) but for now, I'm starting with an old favourite left over from my undergrad nursing days....

Aveyard, H. (2014) Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care: a Practical Guide. 3rd edition. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

As you can tell from the tabs, this book was well-loved and a lifesaver for writing my undergraduate dissertation. It lays out so clearly the steps to undertaking a literature review. I have the 3rd edition, and I believe we're now up to the 5th edition. I've not looked through the most recent updates, but almost certainly won't buy an updated version, as the theory and concept remain the same, even if the references may be somewhat out of date. Plus, I've managed to find....

Aveyard, H., Payne, S., Preston, N. (2021) A Post-Graduate's Guide to Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care. 2nd edition. London: Open University Press.

I was thrilled to find this in our reading list for the dissertation module. I've not actually cracked it open yet, but bought it because I knew how useful the previous book was, but was also conscious that the prior is geared towards undergraduate literature reviews and figured this one may have some helpful nuggets to account for the extra 5000 words I have to write for my postgrad dissertation (although I did initially write 15,000 for my undergrad, and had to cut 5000... so I'm either going to write the perfect amount this time round, or I'll end up writing 25,000 and hate myself for it).

Let me know if you have any other favourite resources that I could check out, particularly for research methods and dissertation writing. Hopefully I'll be back to posting on here more frequently, particularly when my diss is the only thing I have going on and I'll do anything to procrastinate writing!

Until then,

Love, Christie x

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