21 November 2019

Author Team from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Wins 'Lærebogsprisen' 2019


More students need to know about overdiagnosis in the healthcare sector. That is the aim behind the book proposal that last week received the award ‘Lærebogsprisen’ 2019. The author team has deliberately chosen to elucidate the controversial topic from several disciplines in order that they may reach a wider range of students.

‘Here is a both daring and capable author team who is actually doing something!’ This was the unanimous verdict by the jury who selected the recipient of this year’s ‘Lærebogspris’. The author team behind the textbook consists of Postdoc and Social Anthropologist, Alexandra Brandt Ryborg Jønsson and Professor and Medical Specialist, John Brodersen from the Department of Public Health at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

An Interdisciplinary Textbook on Overdiagnosis

Alexandra and John's book proposal deals with overdiagnosis in the healthcare sector. They explain what overdiagnosis is, why it occurs, and how it hurts both individuals and the society. Their point of departure is medical evidence as well as anthropological, sociological and economic theories, in this way combining several disciplines.

’We believe it is necessary to elucidate overdiagnosis from several perspectives. In addition to the medical perspective, it is also necessary to view the problem in a social science context. In this way, we broaden the topic and make an almost “generalist introduction” to it’, explains Alexandra. John follows up:

‘It is important that students in the social science programmes become aware of medical issues. After all, they will typically be the ones who will organise the health sector of the future. Therefore, we hope to be able to offer courses across faculties and thus build a greater interdisciplinary understanding’.

In addition to being used in medical and social science university programmes, the author team hopes that in the long term, the textbook may be used in the health professional and engineering programmes.

Why do Researchers Write Textbooks?

Both Alexandra and John have many years of extensive experience in teaching and research dissemination, and both have written a number of textbook chapters. They agree that dissemination is an important aspect of a researcher's career:

‘It may very well be that textbooks are not that high on the universities' publishing lists, but after all, the essence of a researcher's work is to educate. Textbooks are a great opportunity to disseminate your academic arguments to a wider circle’, explains Alexandra.

Although both Alexandra and John are experienced educators and intermediaries, overdiagnosis has been a difficult topic from a dissemination aspect.

‘Overdiagnosis is a controversial topic with a limited vocabulary to describe it. In terms of dissemination, it has been a great challenge to elucidate it as a trend, without having to point fingers and dive into personal stories of disease. That is precisely why it is such a great recognition for us to receive the award’, says John.

‘Lærebogsprisen’ was presented to Alexandra and John at the Book Forum on Friday, 15 November by Editor-in-Chief Lea Korsgaard of Zetland. It is Denmark's largest non-fiction award, granted by the publishing company ‘Samfundslitteratur’. The award is accompanied by DKK 100,000.

Read more about the Textbook Award here