The first edition of Milton Rosenau’s Preventive Medicine and Hygiene, the forbearer of the current text, was published over a century ago. Rosenau would go on to edit five more editions before he was followed by John Maxcy who served as editor for the 7th edition in 1952 after Rosenau’s death. Maxcy was eventually succeeded in turn by John Last who was editor for the 11th, 12th, and 13th editions, thus establishing the Maxcy-Rosenau-Last moniker that remains with the text to this day. I was fortunate to communicate with John Last as I began my work on this project, and he was delighted to learn that a new edition was underway. He agreed to write a brief foreword, providing a direct link to the storied past of this book. Sadly, John passed away in October 2019 just shy of his 93rd birthday. However, the connection with the text’s century-long lineage continues with Robert Wallace who coedited the 13th edition with John Last, served as editor for the 14th and 15th editions, and now Associate Editor for this, the 16th edition. I first met Bob several years ago when I became the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. He was already an editor for the journal and graciously agreed to stay on with the new team. It was Bob who first approached me about serving as lead editor for this edition and for that I will always be grateful.
The Maxcy-Rosenau-Last Public Health & Preventive Medicine text has been with me the entirety of my professional life, and it would be hard to overstate the influence this book has had on me as a physician, public health practitioner, and academician. I purchased my first copy, the 11th edition, as a medical student almost 40 years ago. Although I had originally planned to be an evolutionary biologist, it was an encounter with public health through a reading of sociologist Paul Starr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 book, The Social Transformation of Medicine in America, which irrevocably altered my career plans. Many years later, a chance meeting with Paul on an airport shuttle bus gave me an opportunity to share how important his book had been to my decision to enter medicine. The discovery of public health was a revelation for me, and I was seized with the idea of public health as my calling. I was further encouraged when I realized public health and preventive medicine were a recognized specialty in the field of medicine, which prompted my initial purchase of Maxcy-Rosenau-Last Public Health & Preventive Medicine. Although I eventually entered a Family Medicine residency at University of Michigan, it was the residency program in General Preventive Medicine and Public Health that originally drew me there, and I ended up serving as Director of the University of Michigan’s Preventive Medicine Residency for 20 years. Following residency, I spent almost two decades in public health practice, initially at the Detroit-Wayne County Health Departments and years later culminating in my appointment as the Governor’s Chief Medical Executive and State Epidemiologist before moving on to an academic career at the University of Michigan. Multiple editions of Maxcy-Rosenau-Last accompanied me throughout, and it would not be possible for me to recount the many times I have recommended the text to my students, preventive medicine residents, physician colleagues, and fellow faculty over the years.
It’s been about 13 years since the last edition of this text was published, calling for a much-needed update to the rapidly expanding fields of preventive medicine and public health. Appearing for the first time in this edition are four new sections that will hopefully become indispensable to all future versions of the text including sections on Global Health (Section II); Health Disparities and Vulnerable Populations (Section III); Mental Health and Substance Use (Section IX); and Nutrition and Physical Activity (Section XI). These new sections are accompanied by major expansions of existing sections on Injury and Violence (Section X); Communicable Diseases (Section VIII); Noncommunicable and Chronic Conditions (Section VI); and Health Education, Health Behavior, and Health Communications (Section IV) along with a complete revision of the structure and content of Environmental and Occupational Health (Section VII). The addition of new sections and expansion of existing ones has resulted in a near doubling of chapters relative to prior editions and reflects the evolving and continually growing disciplines of public health and preventive medicine. I am especially pleased at the inclusion of an opening chapter on the history of this textbook set against the larger backdrop of preventive medicine’s development including the origins of the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR), the latter serving as the societal sponsor of this text for many years.
The public health and preventive medicine communities are currently confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented global health crisis that has affected every country worldwide. According to the WHO, as of March 2, 2021, there have been almost 15 million cases and over 2.5 million deaths from SARS-CoV-2, resulting in incalculable costs and profound disruption to the lives of people, societies, and countries everywhere. The pandemic has also underscored, perhaps in a way otherwise not possible, the vital role of public health and preventive medicine in addressing a global disaster of unimagined scale and, ultimately, in bringing it to an end. I remain confident we will prevail and hope that the information contained herein contributes to this and future efforts to promote health and prevent disease around the world in keeping with Maxcy-Rosenau-Last Public Health & Preventive Medicine’s remarkable century of tradition.
Matthew L. Boulton
Ann Arbor, Michigan