Difference between Prevention and Intervention

Published 27 Mar 2017

Intervention in health terms is referred to as the reduction of the frequency, duration or severity of diseases. It also promotes individual, family, or a community health and well-being. The public health literature often uses terms such as primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention inconsistently, which led to confusion on their usages. Intervention is a general term that encompasses all levels of prevention. The distinction can be identified depending on how a medical condition is being looked at (Young, 2005, p. 267).

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Taking a look at a simpler level, distinction between intervention and prevention is better illustrated. Prevention is done to minimize the exposure of individuals to a serious medical situation. The exposure of individuals to illness-causing factors is the main aim of prevention. The term intervention is applied to individuals who are already exposed to a disease; however, the aim of intervention is to avoid aggravation of the condition, like making the disease severe, or to avoid complications that may cause harm to system or parts other than the affected portion of the body. It is better to prevent a situation than to just intervene on it.

Prevention and intervention can be illustrated in a similar situation. In the case of a person infected with human papillomavirus, the instance of aggravation of the case, which actually may lead to cervical cancer, is prevented as the vaccine against it is administered to the patient. The process of intervention is the administration of the vaccine itself. In this example, the result of the intervention is prevention. Therapy is also a form of intervention that is administered to actually improve the condition of a patient. For a stroke patient, continuous therapy is implemented to make the patient able to move his/her body parts again. What is prevented somehow in this case is not the aggravation of the condition, but being retained in the status of stroke (Ahrens & Pigeot, 2005, p. 351).

Both prevention and intervention lead to a positive medical condition. Their distinction is not obvious and also confusing. Prevention is a much better process, since there will no longer be a problem in future medications as the medical condition has already been avoided. Intervention is also important, but it is going to be more expensive to implement intervention, most especially when dealing diseases causing complications. Yet, both prevention and intervention should always be the focus of healthcare for the benefit of the human race.


  • Ahrens, W., & I. Pigeot. (2005). Handbook of Epidemiology.
  • Young, T. K. (2005). Population health: concepts and methods.
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