Preventive health care is an important part of maintaining good health and preventing future health problems. It consists of primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions that are designed to reduce the risk of developing a disease or injury. Primary prevention is the first line of defense against disease and injury. It involves activities that limit exposure to risk or increase the immunity of people at risk to prevent a disease from progressing in a person susceptible to a subclinical disease.
Examples include getting vaccinated and exercising regularly. Secondary prevention focuses on early detection of the disease and targets people with subclinical forms of the disease. It usually involves tests that can diagnose a disease before it progresses. An example is Papanicolaou cytology (Papanicolaou), which is used to diagnose cervical cancer in its subclinical state.
Tertiary prevention is implemented in symptomatic patients and aims to reduce the severity of the disease, as well as the associated sequelae. It includes rehabilitation efforts that can help reduce the effects of a disease once it has been established in an individual. In the United States, several government bodies make prevention recommendations, such as the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Women's Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI), American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), and American Cancer Society (ACS). However, surveys have shown that only 8% of Americans over the age of 35 receive recommended preventive services. Health promotion programs aim to engage and empower individuals and communities to choose healthy behaviors and make changes that reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and other diseases.
Well-being is described as the active attitudes and decisions a person makes that contribute to positive behaviors and health outcomes. Nurses can help with preventive health care by providing general education to the community, identifying patients at risk, and helping patients access the health care they need. A personal health advocate is a friend or family member who accompanies the patient to doctors' offices and insurance phone calls, making sure that the patient's concerns are heard and their needs are met. Disease prevention differs from health promotion because it focuses on specific efforts aimed at reducing the development and severity of chronic diseases and other morbidities. Modifiable risk behaviors include smoking, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, all of which contribute to the development of chronic diseases.
Preventive services have proven to be an essential aspect of health care, yet they seem to be consistently underutilized in the United States. Focusing other health-focused preventive questions and initiatives on vulnerable populations can have a positive impact not only on individual patients, but also on the entire community.