Consumer Health, Ninth Edition
Preface to Instructors

As have previous editions, this ninth edition of Consumer Health emphasizes the opportunities and pitfalls in the health marketplace and aims to help students protect their health and their pocketbook.

Goal for This Revision

The book's fundamental purpose is to provide trustworthy information and guidelines to enable people to select health products and services intelligently. This edition culminates our review of thousands of books, journal articles, Web sites, agency reports, and feature stories, as well as our own original investigations and critiques. Readers will find the information useful in applying the caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) concept to the health marketplace. The underlying principles of consumer protection were identified in the Consumer Bill of Rights promulgated by President John F. Kennedy and have guided the development of this textbook. President Kennedy declared that consumers have the right to purchase safe products and services, to be correctly informed, to freely choose products and services, and to be heard by the government and others when injustices occur. We strongly support consumer awareness and efforts to assert and protect these rights.

Intended Audience

Consumer Health has been designed as a sole required textbook for consumer health courses. Selected chapters of the book (see "Publisher's Notice" box) can also be useful as required or supplemental readings for other courses in health education; community health; public health; family and consumer sciences; consumer education; health psychology; medical sociology; human ecology; and social welfare. School districts will find Consumer Health useful as a reference for teachers and students as well as an aid in curriculum development. Professional health-care providers can use this text to prepare for public presentations and can make it available in their offices for perusal by clients.

Timeliness of References

Every topic in this book has been carefully researched. In most cases, the more than 1500 cited references represent the latest authoritative information we could locate. Many more systematic reviews and meta-analyses have been cited in this edition than in previous editions. Some references may seem outdated. However, unless otherwise stated, we believe these still reflect the current marketplace. References more than 10 years old are included for historical reasons or because they provide insights or document the source of well-articulated quotations that are still timely. Some reports published long ago are the only ones available that address important concepts.

Chapter 1 provides information on how to read citations and locate the references cited in the text. Those that may be especially useful for students seeking additional information are listed with boldface numbers. When citing material on Web sites, we report the publication date when the site identifies it. When no date is posted, we report when we last accessed the page.

Internet Integration

Another important feature of this edition is its integration with our Consumer Health Sourcebook Web site. The "References" section of this site provides links to many full-text articles and to abstracts of most of the journal articles. Suggestions for course objectives, teaching/learning activities, a sample course outline, and links to hundreds of organizations that provide trustworthy information are also posted.

We encourage students and instructors to subscribe to Consumer Health Digest, a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Dr. Barrett with help from Dr. London. (To subscribe, see At McGraw-Hill's Web site, instructors will find sample test questions to use with the book.


As in the eighth edition, the text is broadly divided into six parts: I. Dynamics of the Health Marketplace focuses on past and present problems. After defining the major consumer health issues, it discusses how the scientific method is used to determine medical truths, how consumers can separate fact from fiction, how frauds and quackery can be identified, and how advertising and other marketing activities influence consumer decisions. II. Health-Care Approaches covers basic medical care and the services of many types of practitioners and facilities. III. Nutrition and Fitness integrates what consumers need to know about the extremely important topics of nutrition, weight control, and exercise. Its chapters provide the necessary tools to distinguish science-based methods from fads, fallacies, and scams. IV. Personal Health Concerns provides a guide to preventing and managing health problems, including several in which self-care is very important. Separate chapters cover cardiovascular disease and cancer with an emphasis on the choices consumers face. V. Other Products and Services covers a myriad of other subjects that affect most, if not all, consumers. These include drug products, skin care and image enhancement, contraceptive methods, vision and hearing aids, other devices, death-related services, and health-care facilities. VI. Protection of the Consumer focuses on legal and economic issues involved in protecting consumers. These include health insurance, health-care financing, consumer-protection laws and agencies, and strategies for intelligent consumers.

Features and New Material All features from the eighth edition have been retained. Many chapters contain vignettes ("Personal Glimpses") to stimulate reader interest and "Consumer Tip" and "Consumer Insight" boxes that emphasize key points. Many checklists and "It's Your Decision" boxes reflect "real-life" decisions that readers may face. The "Key Concepts" box at the beginning of each chapter states what we believe are the most important lessons to be learned from the chapter material. Extensive searches of the scientific literature, court documents, and other relevant reports over an 18-month period have provided information to update the contents of this edition.

Acknowledgments The authors thank John E. Dodes, D.D.S., who reviewed the dental care chapter; Walter A. Zelman, Ph.D., of California State University (Los Angeles), who offered helpful suggestions for the chapters on insurance and health-care financing. The photograph on page 154 is reproduced with permission from Aurora & Quanta Productions, Portland, Maine. The VIPPS logo on page 358 appears with permission of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Our project coordinator, who guided production and permitted this text to remain a powerful voice, was Vicki Malinee of Van Brien & Associates. Freelance editor Sarah West, of Belleville, Illinois, did her usual superb job of copy editing. We also thank the many instructors who continue to provide suggestions for new research and topics to include in the text.

This page was revised on May 4, 2012.