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Prevention is associated with the expectation of reducing the burden of disease in the population through targeted measures. Prevention covers all activities carried out with the aim of preventing or delaying diseases or making them less likely to occur.

With respect to the point of time in the course of a disease, we can distinguish between primary prevention (before onset of a disease, e.g. vaccination), secondary prevention (in the early stages of a disease, e.g. early detection measures) and tertiary prevention (after manifestation of the disease, e.g. patient training).

Target groups may be the overall population, groups with a particularly high risk, or people in the early stages of a disease. Preventative intervention strategies focus partly on individual behaviour and partly on circumstances, e.g. on living conditions relevant to health, such as working conditions, anti-smoking laws and the provision of cycle paths.

In general, prevention has the aim of reducing risk factors and burdens, whereas health promotion approaches have the aim of promoting resources and protective factors.

Data on Prevention from the Health Monitoring Programme

In its health monitoring surveys, the Robert Koch Institute collects specific population-wide representative data on prevention in Germany. In particular, information on the utilisation of vaccinations and early detection measures as well as behavioural prevention and health competence is obtained.

In addition to the prevalence of prevention measures, factors influencing the use of these measures are examined. These include, for instance, socio-demographic factors (sex, age, social status, level of education), attitudes to health and health-related behaviour (physical exercise, diet), state of health and type of health insurance.


Participatory epidemiology: the contribution of participatory research to epidemiology

Bach M, Jordan S, Hartung S, Santos-Hövener C, Wright MT (2017) Emerging Themes in Epidemiology 14 (2):1-15 doi: 10.1186/s12982-017-0056-4

Prevalence and temporal trends of physical activity counselling in primary health care in Germany from 1997–1999 to 2008–2011

Gabrys L, Jordan S, Schlaud M (2015) International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12(136), DOI: 10.1186/s12966-015-0299-9

Population-wide use of behavioural prevention and counselling programmes for lifestyle-related cardiovascular risk factors in Germany.

Schmitz R, Jordan S, Müters S, Neuhauser H (2012) · Eur. J. Cardiovasc. Prev. Rehabil. · 19(4):849–856. DOI: 10.1177/1741826711410949

Vitamin D status and health correlates among German adults

Hintzpeter B, Mensink GBM, Thierfelder W, Müller MJ, Scheidt-Nave C (2008): European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 62, 1079–1089

Additional Information