Public Health Surveys. What They Are, How to Make Them, How to Use Them

1922 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)  
who died at the hands of the enemy in the spring of 1917 while returning from Saloniki, where he had gone to reorganize the sanitary service of the Greek provisional government, enjoyed a far more varied career than falls to the lot of most bacteriologists and pathologists. Born in France of a German mother and a French father, educated in Oxford, London and Paris, he spent the greater part of his active professional life in Egypt. With his broad educational background, it is not strange that
more » ... not strange that he became interested in the disclosures of ancient pathology afforded by the excavations of the ancient dead of Egypt, and his many contributions to this subject have been from time to time the subject of editorial review in The Journal. He had planned to retire from active duty in 1919 and to devote himself to the preparation of a work dealing with his antiquarian studies. This having been prevented by his untimely end, Lady Ruffer, his associate in his scientific work, has issued this volume, which deals chiefly with his studies on the evi¬ dence of disease in ancient Egypt. The editing has been carried out by that enthusiastic American student of paleo¬ pathology, Prof. Roy L. Moodie of the University of Illinois. Not only are strictly pathologic subjects discussed, but many topics of great historical importance, such as the physical effects of consanguineous marriages in the royal families of ancient Egypt, the history of trephining, the effects of diet on teeth, and the court dwarfs as protrayed in Egyptian art, are presented. The medical revelations of this fascinating book are discussed in some detail editorially in this issue. A work of so much permanent value as an historical docu¬ ment is entitled to presentation in the best possible form, with adequate and clear illustrations. These things have been abundantly provided by the publishers, and the work will stand, as intended, as an appropriate monument to a great student and a pioneer in a new department of historical science, paleopathology. At the same time it is one of the most interesting books that have ever been presented on the historical side of medicine. There are certain salient differences between the English of England and the English of America, as practically spoken and written Because of the free interchange of medical literature, physicians, particularly, are interested in these differences. For example, Mr. Mencken cites early in his book a comment appearing in the Medical Press and Circular on an article by MacCarty and Connor, published in Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics. "In the study of the terminology of diseases of the breast," says the British editor, the authors "suggest a scheme which seems simple; but, unfortunately for British understanding, it is written in American." In his introductory chapter Mr. Mencken shows that there are many basic differences in the languages and that the question has been, heretofore, insufficiently studied. He then traces the beginnings of American from the earliest changes originating with the Pilgrim fathers, through the innovations of successive groups of immigrants to the highly colored language and diction of the present. Mr. Mencken sustains his reputation as a keen observer of contemporary life in our republic, and his text is frequently enlivened by satirical flashes at traits as revealed by language. Of this type is the section on "Honorifics," including paragraphs on the terms "Dr." and "Professor." The section on "Forbidden Words" is a clever study of false modesty as revealed by language. Special mention is made of the literary and newspaper tabu of such words as "syphilis," "gonorrhea," and even "stomach." Among certain tendencies, in American, attention is called to the "manufacture of verbs from nouns and such usages as "to operate (transitive)." The latter, the author believes, is almost common usage, and "The Journal of the American Medical Association," he says, "wars upon it in vain." After paying his somewhat caustic respects to American pronun¬ ciation, spelling and the common speech, he takes up "Proper Names in America." For those who have given the matter little thought or consideration, this section will prove a revelation in international psychology. The changing of names for esthetic or commercial reasons has long been endemic in America, and with the war became virtually epi¬ demic. The directory department of the Association could provide Mr. Mencken with numerous instances to add to the many amusing and instructive examples which he presents. Sections on American slang, on the future of the language, and several appendixes including examples supplied by "Ring" Lardner and J. V. A. Weaver, and the Declaration of Inde¬ pendence in American by Mr. Mencken complete the volume. It is a praiseworthy and satisfactory treatise of general philologie and psychologic interest. One of the interesting attempts made by the American people to remedy the general inefficiency of their municipal governments is the extra-official, privately instigated and supported municipal survey. The facts elicited by such surveys have frequently been the starting point of municipal reform. The public health survey has usually constituted an important part of the general municipal survey, and in some cases has served by itself to draw attention to official shortcomings or municipal parsimony. Numerous sanitary surveys have already been made and published, and the results of widespread experience have become available. This book is a meritorious attempt to utilize the results of these inquiries in a standardization of methods, tabulations, etc. The book contains many useful suggestions for those engaged in the study of public health problems in communities of all sizes and conditions. It will prove a usefulguide and handbook. The illustrations are excellent. The bibliography is especially comprehensive. A weak point, and one that should be corrected in subsequent editions, is the lack of a clear, com¬ prehensive scheme indicating just what problems are worthy of attack and how much weight should be assigned to the various portions of the inquiry. The multitude of questions given in the text should be cut down materially. Some of them can serve no useful purpose for public health workers. On page 112, for example, the question is asked, "Is the service of collecting the rubbish and ashes performed free of charge to the residents?" The connection of such inquiries with public health is certainly remote. There are many instances of this sort. mittee. There are two novel features. After an author presented his paper, he was asked such questions as occurred to the commission. In other words, he was asked to defend his thesis or amplify it. These questions and answers are incorporated in the text. At the end of each of the seven chapters are printed the conclusions of the commission. As the commission is made up of exceptionally well qualified neurologists, this feature is not only interesting but very valuable. Every phase of the subject, from history and general considerations to animal experimentation, is covered, and the work as a whole is quite the best thing that has appeared on this polymorphous and puzzling disease. No active internist or neurologist can afford to be without the book.
doi:10.1001/jama.1922.02640570045041 fatcat:btf3ge6455a3tputviudhgpviq