What is Tertiary Prevention? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:05 Community Health Nursing
  • 0:39 What Is Tertiary Prevention?5
  • 2:10 Examples
  • 3:52 Effects in the Community
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bethany Lieberman

Bethany is a certified OB/GYN nurse who has a master's degree in Nursing Education.

In this lesson, you will learn about a category of prevention in health care called tertiary prevention. You will also go over examples of tertiary prevention used to help prevent cardiac disease in community health and population based nursing.

Community Health Nursing

James is a nursing student in his last term for his Bachelors of Nursing Program at a university. He is required to complete a clinical experience in community health and population based nursing. This field of nursing aims to promote health and prevent diseases among a selected group or population. James decides he wants to complete his fieldwork on the prevention of cardiac disease in his community, which he has discovered though research is a leading cause of illness for this local population. James would like to focus his clinical work on the nurse's role in tertiary care and prevention.

What Is Tertiary Prevention?

There are three categories of preventative care that nurses focus on when discussing the healthcare of a community or population:

Primary Prevention includes measures taken to provide people with knowledge of disease prevention before the onset of disease itself, by arming communities with information on healthy lifestyles, risk factors, and behaviors. Prevention is the best and most cost-effective method of ensuring the health of a community by preventing diseases from occurring in the first place.

Secondary Prevention is a form of early disease identification and treatment. It might include screenings, detection, and determining family history and risk factors. Early treatment through modifying lifestyle choices, medication therapy, and catching diseases in their earliest stages allows for better control and management of symptoms. Early treatment can significantly alter the development and manifestation of chronic conditions, which results in fewer doctor appointments, emergency room visits, and costly hospitalizations.

Tertiary prevention is slightly different than the first two categories because it involves reducing the long-term effects of a disease by helping patients manage their conditions and chronic symptoms. The goal is to achieve an improved quality of life and lengthen overall life expectancy by preventing complications in the future. Tertiary prevention is the most taxing on the health care system due to the substantial costs of surgery and lifelong management of chronic disease through medication and rehabilitation.


Since James wants to focus his work on tertiary prevention and cardiac disease, he must first list examples of how cardiac disease fits into these categories and the role of the nurse at each level.

For primary prevention of cardiac disease, nurses would provide the population with education on eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical exercise, and having routine doctor's visits to discuss family history and risk factors for heart disease.

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