Book Review: Oxford Textbook – Old Age Psychiatry

The Oxford Textbook of Old Age Psychiatry is in effect the fourth edition of  ‘Psychiatry in the Elderly’ which has been going since 1991. The book is divided into five sections – Basic Science, Clinical Science, Psychiatric Services, Specific Disorders and Sexuality, Ethics and Medico-legal issues. Each of the 44 chapters is authored by an expert in the field rather and there is an impressive list of contributors.

The book starts with a chapter on the biology of ageing by Alan Bittles and covers a number of interesting topics including calorie-restricted diet trials which are associated with marked longevity in different species. There are other chapters on sociological aspects of ageing as well as chapters on epidemiology, neuropathology, genetics and neurodevelopment.

The section on clinical practice includes biological, psychological and social approaches to treatment. The structure of services is covered in the third section, whilst the fourth section focuses on specific disorders including the various subtypes of dementia. The book finishes with a shorter section on sexuality, ethics and medico-legal issues.

The book contains an impressive diversity of important topics ranging from a personal narrative of the experience of depression through to maltreatment of the elderly. Parts of the book that I found particularly useful or interesting included a list of inappropriate medications (with and without mention of specific disease conditions), old-age liaison services, management of dementia (including non-pharmaceutical approaches) and mental health in care homes.  The chapters are well referenced.

Running at 798 pages this is an impressive and indispensible reference work for old age psychiatry.


Robin Jacoby,  Catherine Oppenheimer, Tom Dening and  Alan Thomas. 2008. Oxford Textbook of Old Age Psychiatry. Fourth Edition.


The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.


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