1. Dudley-Brown, Sharon PhD, RN, CRNP

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Book: Bilhartz, L.E., & Croft, C.L. (Eds.) (2000). Gastrointestinal disease in primary care. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN/ISSN: 0-683-30444-5. Price $49.95.


Gastrointestinal Disease in Primary Care is a concise reference on common gastrointestinal (GI) diseases seen in primary care practice. It is designed to guide the primary care provider in the diagnosis and management of the most common disorders affecting the GI tract and liver. The editors state in the preface, "Considering that the gastrointestinal tract encompasses seven organs, two orifices, six sphincters, smooth muscle, epithelia, and glandular tissue, not to mention 100 grams of bacterial flora and a kilogram of food daily, it is not surprising that patients with gastrointestinal disorders present with a myriad of different complaints" (p. ix). This quote is not only interesting, but also fitting, because this book takes the seemingly overwhelming down to a manageable practical guide in the provision of clinically relevant information on common GI complaints and disorders.


The chapters, arranged anatomically, focus on the more common GI complaints seen in primary care and include: gastroesophageal disease, peptic ulcer disease and H. pylori, gallstones, acute and chronic viral hepatitis, infectious diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer screening, irritable bowel syndrome, GI disease in those with HIV, diverticulitis, ischemic colitis, and perianal disorders. Each chapter includes a table of contents, a summary of diagnosis, key points, referral information, suggested readings, and a list of commonly asked questions. Emphasis is on typical clinical presentations, cost-effective diagnostic evaluations, and treatment and management options. Extensive pathophysiology is not included, nor is a discussion of the requisite endoscopic and surgical procedures. Algorithms, tables, and figures supplant the information in the text, and allow for easy referencing.


This concise, easy-to-read book is, as its stated purpose, written specifically for primary care providers, not for those working in a gastroenterology specialty practice. As a primary care provider, I found it to live up to its expectations. As the chapters are easy-to read, the book is perfect for a quick reference. However, as an educator of nurse practitioners (NPs), I also find it to be a useful educational tool, not just a useful clinical reference guide. It contains all the information that NPs need to know about gastroenterology complaints in primary care: nothing more and nothing less, in an easy to understand format. I recommend this book to all NPs in school, and to those practicing in primary care. While less useful for any nurse working in GI, it would be an easy to understand reference for nurses at all levels that are new to the field of gastroenterology.