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Prevention Stages

Prevention is the action aimed at eradicating, eliminating or minimizing the impact of disease and disability, or if none of these are feasible, retarding the progress of the disease and disability.

Primary Prevention

• Primary prevention is aimed at reducing the risk of disease or disability in a healthy population. It begins before the onset of a disease.
• Example: To create a sense of well being and health, patients are be advised to eat nutritious meals and exercise daily.
• Example: To prevent seniors from falling, the community hospital may offer a program on fall prevention.


Secondary Prevention

• Secondary prevention seeks to prevent the early stages of a disease advancing through early diagnosis and treatment. It attempts to prevent the disease from progressing by detecting it early.
• Example: Early intervention to treat children age 3 and below in order to prevent future complications.

Tertiary Prevention

• Tertiary prevention focuses not only on restoring health after the occurrence of a disease or disability, but also on preventing any damaging after-effects and complications setting in. Attempts to reduce the damage caused by symptomatic disease by focusing on mental, physical, and social rehabilitation. Unlike secondary prevention, which aims to prevent disability, the objective of tertiary prevention is to maximize the remaining capabilities and functions of an already disabled patient. Goals of tertiary prevention include: preventing pain and damage, halting progression and complications from disease, and restoring the health and functions of the individuals affected by disease.
• Example: PTSD support groups

Quick Reference

Primary Prevention– intervening before health effects occur
Secondary Prevention– screening to identify diseases in the earliest stage
Tertiary Prevention– managing disease post diagnosis to slow or stop

** Secondary and tertiary prevention have always been part of many occupational therapy interventions.