Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Booknote: Appalachian Health and Well-Being

Robert L. Ludke and Phillip J. Obermiller, eds. with Foreword by Richard A. Couto, Appalachia Health and Well-Being. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2012.  ISBN: 978-0-8131-35861.

Genre: nonfiction, reference work
Subgenre: Appalachia, health, health care, academic essays anthology
Format: Hardcover
Source: Hutchins Library, Reference Collection

This note is a reference book review. We currently have this book in our collection at Hutchins Library; I saw it on our new reference books' shelf, and I decided to make this note both to help me better know this resource and to see if it can be helpful for our students here. In this note, I will mainly look at key features of the book, how it is organized, and why it may be useful and how. On a small side note, I will probably pull some notes or items from this review to write a small quick review for our library's blog about this book. What I am saying is this note is a bit different than my usual booknotes.

In our library, we get a lot of questions related to Appalachia and the region in general. Appalachia is also a big part of the college's curriculum, especially in the required reading second semester General Studies course, so we are always looking for resources in this area. Health in the region is often a popular topic in those classes, so this book seems relevant.

I need to note it was published in 2012. For some of our classes that may require sources within 5 years (for reasons I will not go into here), this book may already be "too old." However, for classes looking at the region more broadly and at overall conditions in the region, this book can be useful.

The book is a collection of scholarly signed essays on various health related topics in the region. The book is organized as follows:

  • List of illustrations
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Three major parts, each containing a series of essays. The book has a total of 16 essays. The major part topics are: 
    • Appalachian Health Determinants
    • Appalachian Health Status
    • Urban Appalachian Health
  • Acknowledgements
  • Selected bibliography
  • List of contributors
  • Index

In his foreword to the book, Professor Couto tells us chapters in this book "addressed all the factors that promote health and well-being, including economic, political, psychological, environmental, and social ones" (xi). Maybe "all" is a bit too ambitious, but a look at the book's contents shows work "to put health and health care in a socioeconomic and political context" (xi). For many classes here on campus, specially in that General Studies curriculum I mentioned, this book can provide a good start for student research assignments.

This book is not just a collection of essays. The book's foreword and introduction provide a good overview of the complex issues of the region in terms of health and health care. The editor writes,

"This volume takes a broad perspective by focusing on the health of all Appalachians, both residents of Appalachia and those who have migrated from the region" (1).

The introduction's overview goes over various essential topics in a brief but clear manner in order to provide background material. Some of these topics include:

  • Medical services for rural areas
  • Health innovations
  • Definitions and concepts

What the book does not cover and why. This is the kind of statement that students and researchers need to pay attention to when considering a source for a research task or assignment as it presents the limitations of the work being considered:

"There are important Appalachian subpopulations (e.g African Americans, Hispanics, Eastern Band Cherokee) and health cohorts (e.g. those with HIV/AIDS) that are not discussed in this volume. Although women's health is reasonably well represented here, many other subgroups in Appalachia are not. This is not an intentional omission; it is caused by an unfortunate lack of reliable regional data on these populations" (16). 

The book's introduction includes a section on "organization of this book." Good scholarly essay collections often include this kind of section. Here the editors define how a book is organized and why they chose their book's arrangement as well as briefly describes each essay in the book. So for students, read the introduction, specially this part, to quickly assess how well this book may suit your assignment or not. For many topics on Appalachian health and health care, you may find this book is a good source. At the end of the introduction you will find endnotes and references used in the introduction, which can be useful for expanding your research.

In the book, each scholarly essay has its own list of references as well. Again, those references are a tool to help students and researchers expand their research. We librarians often call using references from a source "citation mining." Want to learn more about this research technique? You can ask your local friendly librarian.

Finally, the book has an index of terms you can use to locate specific contents in the book. Book also contains various tables, charts, and graphs.

I'd say for some of our classes here, especially for some in the General Studies curriculum as well as classes here and in other places in Appalachian Studies, health, and wellness, this book can be a good resource.

Note: no stars rating. This is a reference book. If you have questions about why I did not rate this book, see my book review statement.

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