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I'm hoping to learn the basics of epidemiological methods, terminology, etc. I come from a background in statistical economics, and I'm moving into the economics of public health. I don't know if epidemiology uses separate statistical methods, but I presume it does. I know discussion questions aren't recommended, but please list any reasons you have (personal experience, ease of introduction, etc.) for texts you would recommend.

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There are two books I'd highly recommend for someone starting to dabble in Epidemiology. The first is Kenneth Rothman's Epidemiology: An Introduction, which I'm affectionately going to refer to as "Baby Rothman" from hereon out for reasons that will become obvious.

Baby Rothman is an excellent "getting your feet wet" book. It's simplistic, and clearly designed for someone with no background in Epidemiology, so it starts from things that, if you have a statistical background, you might find a bit dull. But it accomplishes two key tasks:

  1. A basic treatment of the subject from a pre-eminent methodologist and advocate for the field that doesn't make some of the sloppy slight-of-hand mistakes many introductory books do.
  2. An introduction to the "vocabulary" of Epidemiology as a field - what we call things, how we thing about effect estimates, etc.

The second book I would buy would be Modern Epidemiology: 3rd Edition by Rothman, Greenland and Lash. This is the definitive reference book for most epidemiological methods currently used in the field. As I said on a related CrossValidated question, ME3 is the only epidemiology book that has always come with me, regardless of what project I'm doing, and which I have routinely found invaluable.

The other benefit of the book is that it's "platform agnostic". It's not going to try to teach you a statistics package - its going to teach you the science and philosophy of Epidemiology, the actual doing of the science, rather than the toolkit. Without that kind of methodological rigor, you can be a wizard at your language of choice and still do bad science.

If I were only going to buy one book, it would be ME3.

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Excellent answer. The other post you linked is also extremely helpful. I actually had Rothman's beginner introduction in the stack of books I borrowed from my uni's library already, and upon first read I quite like it. Thank you! – Ricardo Altamirano Apr 27 '12 at 21:19

Here is an online book of epidemiology for the uninitiated. I used it to get a basic understanding of epidemiology.

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I don't suppose that book is available as a PDF too, correct? – Ricardo Altamirano Apr 23 '12 at 1:07
@pythonscript no, but it should be simple to cut and paste into a libre office doc and export to pdf. Or if you need it in epub not sure how to do that. – thomasrive Apr 23 '12 at 13:48

I found Clinical Epidemiology by Robert and Suzanne Fletcher extremely useful to gain some quick insight in to the broad area of epidemiology during my first year of post-doc. It covers a wide-range of topic in clinical research and epidemiology in an accessible format with several examples and extensive illustrations.

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That may be a bit advanced for me, since I do not come from a pharmacy or medical background, but I'll take a look at it for good measure once I gain a stronger understand of the field. – Ricardo Altamirano Apr 26 '12 at 15:46

Leon Gordis' "Epidemiology" was my textbook in undergrad and it was quite easy to follow. It's a small textbook as well so you can read through in no time.

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Small textbook with a hefty price! I may look into it, though. – Ricardo Altamirano Apr 26 '12 at 15:45
If you look around you can find it used or by electronic means. – user560 Apr 26 '12 at 20:59

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