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Health promotion allows a person to control the determinants of health, resulting in an improved health status. It enhances the quality of life and reduces premature deaths. Health promotion and illness prevention programs help people make beneficial choices to reduce the risk of disease and disabilities. There are three health promotion and illness prevention levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention.

In primary prevention, actions taken before disease onset prevent the disease from occurring and remove the possibility that the condition may occur. Primary prevention includes health education, environmental modifications, nutritional interventions, and lifestyle and behavioral changes.

Minimizing the consequences of a disease process or condition is the premise of secondary prevention. Secondary prevention includes screening programs like mammography to detect breast cancer and dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to detect osteoporosis before the onset of signs and symptoms.

Managing to prevent complications or further damage in an existing, usually chronic disease is tertiary prevention. For example, tertiary care for people with diabetes include focusing on glucose control, proper care of the skin, routine foot examinations, and frequent exercise to prevent vascular disease. Tertiary prevention for stroke may involve taking anticoagulants to prevent reoccurrence.

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