Preventive Services

The delivery of health promotion and disease prevention services can have a wide variety of benefits for individuals, families, and society. What do we mean when we talk about “preventive services?”

What are the Preventive Services?

The classic preventive services are:

  • Immunizations
  • Chemoprophylaxis
  • Screening for early detection of disease
  • Education and counseling of patients about behaviors that impact their health

Levels of Prevention Strategies

There are three levels of prevention strategies: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary prevention involves interventions that prevent disease from occurring such as discussing with the patient strategies such as the advantages of using a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorbike, smoking assessment and counseling, or a tetanus vaccination.

Secondary prevention involves screening interventions that detect asymptomatic disease and improve outcomes, such as pap smears and a blood pressure assessment.

Tertiary prevention involves an intervention to reduce complications of established disease. Some examples are ophthalmology examinations in diabetic patients or statin use in post-myocardial patients (Essentials of Family Medicine, Sixth Edition, Lippincott. 2012. pp 29).

Question 4:

Jorge Curioso is a 51 year old male who comes for his annual health maintenance visit. He has a past medical history of hypertension for which he is on hydrochlorothiazide and enalapril. He drinks 2 glasses of wine on weekends. Mr. Curioso denies tobacco or recreational drug use. He has a steady sexual partner – his wife of 20 years. The patient has no known allergies. He lives in the Bronx and drives to Manhattan where he works as a zoo keeper. As part of his health care promotion, which one of the following is an example of primary prevention?

  1. Education about seat-belt use while driving or riding in an automobile
  2. Fasting lipid panel serum level
  3. Electrocardiogram exam to assess for left ventricular hypertrophy
  4. Colonoscopy to assess for colon cancer

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