Earlier editions of these three texts, one by a British academic (Jane Ogden) and two by academics in America, have achieved considerable success, and their revised editions are to be welcomed. Although there is inevitably much overlap in the content of the three texts there is considerable difference in emphasis and style.
The volume of work undertaken by Ogden for the first edition of her textbook was impressive, and the second edition is even better. The user-friendly design has been retained. Each chapter begins with an overview, is meticulously organised and ends with a series of questions, a theme for discussion, assumptions underlying the content and suggested further reading. It is interesting to see chapters on screening and sex as risk factors, both of which merit only scant attention in the two US texts. As a text aimed at undergraduate psychology students, it is hard to fault. In spite of its sales pitch, the contents seems less tailored towards professional health-related courses, where an even more applied emphasis might be expected. It is also rather too basic to be useful for the postgraduate market.
The fourth edition of Shelley Taylor's text is dense by comparison with Ogden's. The end-of-chapter summaries, key terms and boxes to highlight specific issues are retained, while a case summary at the start of each chapter has been introduced. However, the emphasis is on providing a readable, comprehensive and up-to-date summary of the burgeoning research literature in health psychology, the focus being on US research. In Taylor's book, the reference section alone runs to 89 double-column pages (compared with just 50 single-column pages in Ogden's text). It is a superb undergraduate and introductory postgraduate textbook, as well as providing a resource for researchers. It is likely to remain a bestseller within this market, particularly in the US.
The fourth edition of Linda Brannon and Jess Feist's text has clearly been revised to make it more competitive with books like Taylor's within the US undergraduate market. The material is far more accessible than before. Each chapter begins with a case study, and there are several summary sections rather than merely end-of-chapter summaries. There is little to choose between the Brannon and Feist and Taylor texts in terms of content. The former contains a chapter on preventing injuries, which, as the authors note, is novel in a health psychology text. The other main difference is that Taylor provides a more comprehensive review of the literature; I also find her style of writing more accessible.
Given the particular strengths of the books, the niche each has filled in the academic market and the rapid pace of change in health psychology as a discipline, the authors should be encouraged to produce further revised editions in about four years.
Robert J. Edelmann is honorary professor, University of Surrey, Roehampton and University of Keele.
Health Psychology: A Textbook. Second edition
Author - Jane Ogden
ISBN - 0 335 20597 6 and 20596 8
Publisher - Open University Press
Price - £55.00 and £17.99
Pages - 396