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March 26, 2007

The Promise of Preventive Interventions Depends on Robust Health Care Delivery

Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(6):532. doi:10.1001/archinte.167.6.532

Prevention is a broad topic. The prevention spectrum can range from studies involving risks and exposures on the etiologic end to disease outcomes on the intervention end. It can mean primary prevention of incident disease, secondary prevention of recurrent events, prevention of adverse events from therapeutic interventions, or the implementation of processes that improve the application of efficacious interventions. It is also often assumed that preventing adverse outcomes is better than only intervening at the time of their occurrence, although such assumptions are not always supported by empirical evidence. In our Call for Papers on preventive interventions published in the June 12, 2006, issue of the ARCHIVES, we challenged the clinical research community for more evidence on the broad topic of prevention. We received an ample number of manuscripts on the topic, and many of the articles in this issue represent the general types and quality of research on preventive interventions. A few themes that emerged from this research are worth emphasizing.