Long-awaited update of an old-time favourite title by pharmacy students and pharmacists on minor ailments

The popular minor ailments book finally returns with a new edition.

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The title of this book originates from a series of articles written by Clive Edwards and Paul Stillman, published in The Pharmaceutical Journal between 1979 and 1981 and then published as a book by the Pharmaceutical Press, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, in 1982. It discusses in detail the diagnosis and management of minor ailments frequently encountered in community pharmacy practice.

This latest edition offers a new approach to the management of minor illness, the most obvious difference from previous editions being the reformatting of the book to mirror the structure of the British National Formulary. The book also uses the problem-based learning approach where minor illnesses are discussed in the context of case studies.

The first chapter briefly introduces the topics of self-care, non-prescription medicines, consultation and diagnosis. It is followed by eight chapters of minor illnesses classified according to the particular system of the body affected. Each chapter begins with a short introduction and a table that outlines the conditions and the drugs that will be covered. The chapter is then divided into sections that deal with symptoms that are commonly encountered in practice.

Each section begins with a case study which is intended to encourage a reflective approach and to illustrate the complexity of differentiating between minor illness and major disease. Following the case study, assessment of the symptoms is discussed and treatment options presented. This may give rise to further questions and the reader has the opportunity to reconsider the initial response. A pharmacist and a general medical practitioner or dietitian responds to the case. This illustrates the similarities and differences in approach by two different healthcare professionals.

Each section is completed by a table summarising the key information presented and links together minor illnesses with management options. Each chapter ends with a series of self-assessment questions, the styles of which reflect those encountered in university or professional examinations.

A “further reading” section can be found at the end of most chapters, focusing on reviews and evidence of the efficacy of over-the-counter medicines.

The book is well structured and easy to use. The tables are clear and concise and the photographs and illustrations are of the highest quality.

It should be read by pharmacy undergraduates and preregistration trainees, and it will also be of great value to community pharmacists in differentiating between minor illness and major disease that requires urgent referral to a medical practitioner.

Laurence A. Goldberg


Minor illness or major disease 6th edition, Brian Addison, Alyson Brown, Ruth Edwards and Gwen Gray. Pp xiii +254. Price £39.99 (Royal Pharmaceutical Society members £29.99). London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2016. ISBN 978 0 85711 214 9

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, December 2016, Vol 297, No 7896;297(7896):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201713

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