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Edited by Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe. Geneva: World Health Organisation, 2004, pp 244 (also includes two CD ROMs). ISBN 92-4-156223-4
The MONICA project, which aimed to provide information relevant to cardiovascular disease prevention, is familiar to health professionals and researchers around the world. As with any long term large scale study, it can be difficult to efficiently gain an overview of the project without a time consuming literature review. This monograph and multimedia source book aims to “bring everything together” in a way that is accessible to a range of readers from the general public and journalists to medical specialists and politicians.
The book covers the background and organisation of the project, recruitment, data collection and handling, and quality assessment. There are profiles of the MONICA populations, details of publications, and a selection of graphics with explanations of the principal findings. The accompanying CD ROMs include the MONICA manual, quality assessment reports, data books with aggregate data, a sample database and slide shows with and without a spoken commentary.
The resource book is well organised and easy to read. In addition to project design and results there is discussion of relevant epidemiological concepts, project challenges, and limitations. It includes clear illustrations and graphics with succinct explanations and summary boxes, and is complemented by the CD ROMs. All key areas are covered but it may have been advantageous to have a final summary re-emphasising how well MONICA met its aims, and listing principal results. It presents insights into the researchers and study centres involved, directs the interested reader towards more detailed documents, and provides a sample database for analysis. It also acts as a guide of important issues in research such as standardisation of measurement, quality control, and collaboration. The book can be read from cover to cover, or by dipping into specific sections, and it also provides a guide to other more detailed MONICA resources.
It would appeal to those with an interest in cardiovascular disease, epidemiology, public health, and prevention. This is an ambitious resource for what was an ambitious project, but it does fulfil its promise to “bring everything together.”
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