The Textbook of Family Practice was first published in 1973, just as the new specialty of Family Practice was being established. In 2005 the American Board of Family Practice changed its name to the American Board of Family Medicine, and this eighth edition reflects that name change.

For the first time this entire edition is available as an electronic version that can be accessed online. Additional material is available online, including 30 procedural videos from Elsevier's Procedures Consult.

In this edition, David Rakel, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, joins his father as co-editor.

This text is designed to be a resource for family physicians to help them remain current with recent advances in medicine. It will be especially valuable to the family physician preparing for certification or recertification by the American Board of Family Medicine.

Our goal is to serve as a resource for all health professionals responsible for providing primary care to patients, especially those professionals who may not have been adequately trained in the large variety of areas that make up comprehensive primary care.

Almost all authors are family physicians. For the clinical chapters we have continued the policy established in the first edition of having an authority in the field co-author the chapter with an experienced family physician to ensure that the information is current and relevant to the needs of the family physician.

The use of color in this edition enhances the rapid retrieval of essential information by highlighting Key Points and other essential information. Also included are more than 1000 tables and illustrations. The strength of recommendation taxonomy (SORT) in the Key Treatment boxes is used to indicate the strength of the evidence, focusing primarily on Grade A recommendations.

Although this text focuses on problems most frequently encountered by the family physician, significant attention is also paid to the diagnosis of potentially serious problems that would be dangerous if missed. Diagnosing a problem in its early, undifferentiated stage is much more difficult than after symptoms have progressed to the point that the diagnosis is evident. Early diagnosis and treatment decreases morbidity and is much more cost effective.

Our thanks to the staff at Elsevier and for their high standards and insistence on quality.

Robert E. Rakel, MD David P. Rakel, MD

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