Primary Prevention: Definition, Strategies & Examples

Instructor: Lynee Carter
In this lesson you will learn about primary prevention in health. These actions can help you avoid getting certain diseases, sicknesses, injuries and conditions that are not beneficial to the body.

Introduction

Even if you don't know the term 'primary prevention,' chances are you participate in it every single day. When you brush your teeth, you are doing so to prevent getting cavities. If you exercise, you are likely trying to prevent becoming overweight. You wear seat belts in cars to protect yourself if you're ever unlucky enough to get into an accident. These are all examples of primary prevention.

Definition

Primary prevention refers to the actions people take that help them avoid developing certain health problems. These problems can include diseases, sicknesses, injuries or conditions that are not beneficial to the body. These actions are the first type of preventive behaviors that are conducted before the problems occur. They not only save people from experiencing illnesses, but help them to save time and money in health care.

Risk Factors

Before primary prevention is carried out, certain information about the person needs to be identified. Risk factors are the traits people possess or the behaviors they choose to practice that increase the chance of them getting a specific condition. Although there are some risk factors a person cannot control, such as their age, gender and family history, there are some behaviors they can control.

Let's first look at some risk factors that cannot be controlled:

  • Older adults are at risk of breaking a hip bone when they fall.
  • Men are at a higher risk of getting high blood pressure than women.
  • Daughters of mothers with breast cancer are at risk of getting it too.

Now look at some examples of risk factors that can be controlled:

  • Decreased physical activity contributes to the risk of childhood obesity
  • Unprotected sex practices increase the risks of getting sexual transmitted diseases
  • People who use tobacco products are at a higher risk of developing certain cancers

smoking

Strategies

Primary prevention strategies can be delivered via various means. Some of these are examined below.

Health Care Facilities

Health care facilities provide education to patients to increase their knowledge about the possibility of developing conditions. This can be especially important if the patient has a family history of a certain disease. Health care professionals give instructions about lifestyle changes in diet and exercise and encourage practicing safe behaviors. Vaccinations are also made available and administered to help people avoid getting certain diseases. Products such as contraceptives and condoms may also be distributed.

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