Medicine and Health

Medicine and Health

Medicine and Health encompasses the study of the prevention, cure, and understanding of disease as well as the investigation of physical and mental wellbeing. Oxford Reference provides more than 82,000 concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries on the wide range of subjects within this discipline.

Written by trusted experts for researchers at every level, our coverage comprises authoritative, highly accessible information on the very latest terminology, theories, treatments, people, and organizations relating to all areas of medicine and health—from public health, psychology, sports science, and food and nutrition, to biomedicine, epidemiology, nursing, and plastic surgery.

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                               A Dictionary of Psychology    A Dictionary of Epidemiology   A Dictionary of Biomedicine   A Dictionary of Nursing


See all the Medicine and Health books available on Oxford Reference >


Sample resources

Discover medicine and health on Oxford Reference with the below sample content:

A timeline of medicine: from trephination in Peru to the first artificial living organ transplant

Quotations about medicine and health from Oxford Essential Quotations

The origin and distribution of arteries in the head and neck from A Dictionary of Dentistry

An explanatory list of phobias and phobic stimuli from A Dictionary of Psychology

A list of inherited medical conditions from Concise Medical Dictionary

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Featured author

Miquel Porta

Miquel Porta

Miquel Porta is a physician, epidemiologist, and scholar from Barcelona who pioneered clinical and molecular epidemiology in Europe and has promoted the integration of biological, clinical, environmental, and social knowledge and methods in research and teaching worldwide. Porta has served as a visiting scientist at many global institutions, including the University of North Carolina, Harvard, and Imperial College London, and was Chairman of the European Epidemiology Federation. He is the editor of the current edition of A Dictionary of Epidemiology.

Author Q&A

What would you say is the most unusual/obscure term in your subject area?

The most usual and obscure or difficult term could be rate, which in science, medicine, and other professions is used with rather different meanings and in different contexts. It is a good example of a polysemic term. The current edition of the dictionary offers more than 60 definitions of rate and related terms (e.g. attributable rate, infection rate, and hazard rate). Some of such definitions have changed not only in the past 30 years, but in several of the six editions of the dictionary since 1983.

What do you think is the most commonly held misconception in your subject area?

Maybe that epidemiology only studies epidemics of diseases, whereas it has long been shown (and accepted by almost anyone in touch with science) that epidemiology

a) studies the occurrence and distribution of any type of health-related events, states, and processes in specified populations, including the study of the ‘determinants’ (biological, clinical, sanitary, sociocultural, political) that influence such processes, and

b) it applies such knowledge to control relevant human health problems.

Many of us think that nowadays rigid ‘insular’ views of disciplines do not make much sense, either scientifically or socially; by contrast, it is fantastic how epidemiology and many other health, life, and social sciences interact and cooperate with each other. Vast parts of the contemporary scientific world are open and interconnected – much more creative, relevant, efficient, and interesting because of the porousness and plasticity of the disciplines.

Happily, today research methods with strong epidemiological roots, dimensions, and properties are fruitfully applied ‘within’ and ‘outside’ epidemiology. A positive blurring of the boundaries of epidemiological research methods occurred in the last decades of the last century; e.g. the integration of population thinking and group comparison into clinical and public health research. The expansion of this influence toward other research areas (e.g. ‘-omics’ disciplines) is also significant. Such an expansion of influence is not identical to what occurred via clinical epidemiology and, later, evidence-based medicine (and today evidence-based health care). The nature of the hypotheses at stake is often quite different in clinical medicine than in, say, molecular biology or proteomics. Largely because of this ontological fact, because biotechnologies generate and drive different types and amounts of information and research, and for other reasons, today epidemiological thinking and reasoning continues to create new approaches, research designs, strategies of analysis, and ways to assess causality for such (micro)biological, clinical, and (macro)social disciplines.

Which figure in your subject’s history would you most like to invite to a dinner party? What would you ask him/her?

She is not part of history yet: but some of us know she will be – that she might be. She is that young student or professional around you who is so good at integrating science and human impact, theoretical knowledge and practice, biological mechanisms and the clinical, social, and environmental dimensions of health, methodological rigour and creativity and relevance, moral courage, elegance, compassion, and political boldness... And on top of all of that, she has a lot of fun. I would smile and ask her: ‘how come you have so much fun?’

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Featured blogs


Are you smarter than a medical professional? [quiz]
May 13th 2015
How sharp is your medical lingo? Take this quiz to find out.

For more medicine and health blog posts delve in to the OUPblog archives >

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