I'm looking for a good reference book in epidemiology. I have Rothman's Epidemiology: An introduction and Porta's A Dictionary of Epidemiology. Rothman's was a big dissapointment as it is very simplistic and lacks anything that is beyond obvious after basic studies. I've heard that his Modern Epidemiology is good but I'm slightly hesitant in buying it since I'm so disappointed with the introductory book. I've found Porta's to be very nice but it's a dictionary and I'm more interested in a text-book.

I would be grateful for any suggestions.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm reluctant to convert this question to CW because it looks like you already did some consulting and are asking for thorough comments and advices (like one of the reply you got already) that might lead to an acceptable answer. $\endgroup$
    – chl
    Jan 22, 2012 at 10:28

2 Answers 2


The introductory book by Ken Rothman (which will affectionately be known as "Baby Rothman" from here on out) is not a representation of the quality of Modern Epidemiology by Rothman, Greenland and Lash (ME3).

Baby Rothman is meant to be a very basic introductory book, of the kind suited to a class non-Epidemiologists are taking for distribution requirements, or as a first step to someone who hasn't encountered much Epidemiology before.

ME3 on the other hand is essentially the definitive reference book for most epidemiological methods. It is the only Epidemiology textbook I've had that has always come with me, regardless of the project I'm doing, and it's proved invaluable. There's more than a few questions I've answered here with citations from it.

Beyond ME3, a few of the books I use regularly:

Survival Analysis Using SAS: A Practical Guide by Paul Allison. If you're a SAS user (or possibly even if you aren't), its a very good treatment of the doing of survival analysis.

Survival Analysis by Klein and Moeschberger is a more theoretical treatment and reference on survival analysis, but makes for a good supplement to Allison's book.

Modeling Infectious Diseases in Humans and Animals by Keeling and Rohani, if you're interested in mathematical epidemiology, is a good introductory book that keeps a balance of practice and math.

Most other references I use are either very domain specific, or programming books.

But seriously, if you have to buy one book, that book should be Modern Epidemiology.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ All of the above sounds right. I would throw my weight behind the Klein and Moeschberger recommendation for survival analysis. I seem to remember that Thomas Lumley used it as the notation basis when he ported Therneau's survival package to R. $\endgroup$
    – DWin
    Jan 21, 2012 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Plus one. "But seriously, if you have to buy one book, that book should be Modern Epidemiology." $\endgroup$
    – jthetzel
    Jan 24, 2012 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ Baby rothman and big rothman? It's like I'm studying real analysis all over again (replace "rothman" with "rudin") $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    Dec 8, 2015 at 18:55

ME3 (Modern Epidemiology 3rd edition) by Rothman et al is the standard for doctoral programs in Epidemiology in the US. My opinion is based on my experience teaching in the epidemiologic methods core curriculum sequence at Hopkins and UNC for 15 years.

I would supplement with Causal Inference by Hernan and Robins.

I have used Paul Allison's and Klein and Moscheberger's survival books. The former will be easier without instruction.

I would also recommend Statistical Inference by Casella and Berger.

Finally, Understanding Uncertainty by Lindley is a great place to start.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you give the exact title of all references? $\endgroup$ May 14, 2015 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, sorry. Exact titles are given for Modern Epidemiology, Causal Inference, Statistical Inference (but is 2nd edition) and Understanding Uncertainty. Paul Allison's book is Survival Analysis Using the SAS System, 2nd edition. And Klein and Moeschberger is Survival Analysis: Techniques for Censored and Truncated data, 2nd edition. $\endgroup$
    – cole
    Jun 9, 2015 at 15:40

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