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Am Psychol. 2000 Apr;55(4):382-96.

Two pathways to prevention.

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Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0628, USA.


Health promotion and disease prevention programs are becoming important components of contemporary health care. There are at least 2 pathways to the enhancement of population health status through disease prevention. The first pathway requires the early diagnosis and treatment of disease. The second pathway promotes healthy lifestyles and disregards the requirement that a condition must be diagnosed before intervention is recommended. Data from several evaluations suggest that prevention efforts that rely on diagnosis have produced somewhat limited benefits, whereas primary prevention efforts may have substantial benefits. Current health policy places greater emphasis on secondary prevention. The objectives of improved population health might be better achieved by devoting relatively more resources to primary prevention through the promotion of healthy behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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