The Oxford Guide to Medicine and Health


The subject of Medicine and Health covers a vast number of topics, including the study of diseases and injury, the treatment of patients, and the investigation of physical and mental wellbeing. Oxford Reference offers expert-authored definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries on every aspect of this wide field, from public health and psychology to nutrition, sports science, food and drink, the environment, biomedicine, epidemiology, nursing and plastic surgery.

Modern scientific biomedical research began to replace early Western traditions based on herbalism and the Greek “four humours” after the 17th century, with such developments as Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine at the end of that period, and Robert Koch’s discoveries around 1880 regarding bacteria-transmitted diseases. In the 19th and 20th centuries, advances in genetics, human evolution, cytology, embryology, histology, molecular biology and pharmacology have continued to influence medical technology, practice and decision-making.

Medical subjects include anatomy (the study of the structure of living things), anthropology, biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, medicine, physiology, epidemiology, statistics, and veterinary medicine. Other areas of specialization include:

Veterinary medicine is the branch of science that deals with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of disease in animals. It is distinguished from zoology, the study of the behavior and ecology of animals, and animal husbandry.

A doctor of medicine is a physician who has qualified through medical school and passed their exams. They have extensive training in the management of both acute and chronic illnesses. They are also trained in the operation of medical equipment and can prescribe medication.

Medical anthropology is the study of how culture and society relate to health and medical issues and concerns. Occupational medicine is the branch of medicine that focuses on the health and safety of workers in the workplace.

Medicine is a vast area, and understanding medical terminology can be difficult. Terms are divided into prefixes, roots and suffixes to help students memorize them. Prefixes appear at the beginning of a word and indicate location, direction, or type; roots are the root words from which the term is derived; and suffixes are added to the base words to indicate specialty or function.

Throughout the world, there are many different ways to organize the branches of medicine. In the United States, for example, there are nine major medical schools and over 200 clinical departments. In addition, there are numerous subspecialties within these fields. For instance, a subfield of internal medicine is gastroenterology, which is the branch of medicine that deals with the digestive system. Other examples of subfields of medicine include hematology, oncology, and urology. There are even some subfields of osteopathic medicine. These fields are all important parts of the health care system and can serve people in a variety of ways. For instance, they can improve patient outcomes, decrease costs, and increase the quality of life for patients.