You will notice that I have changed the title for this series and no longer refer to wellness. This is purposeful. As I discussed in the previous post, the term “wellness” today encompasses thousands of areas and services that have little if any proof as to their value or ability to create healthier employees and it is not really appropriate when applied to clinically-based programs used to actually improve the health of employees.
Preventive medicine is a medical discipline just like cardiology, family practice, neurology and a myriad of others. As a medical discipline, preventive medicine is based in science. The American College of Preventive Medicine represents physicians trained in this specialty, as described on their website:
The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) is the national professional society for physicians committed to disease prevention and health promotion. ACPM was established in 1954. Its 2,400 members are engaged in preventive medicine practice, teaching and research. Specialists in preventive medicine are uniquely trained in both clinical medicine and public health. They have the skills needed to understand and reduce the risks of disease, disability and death in individuals and in population groups. To learn more about the College, visit http://www.acpm.org/.
To delve further into preventive medicine, I recommend the textbook, Clinical Preventive Medicine, 2nd edition by Richard S. Lang and Donald D. Hensrud, published in 2004 by the American Medical Association. Here they define prevention:
Prevention is the act of hindering or averting the occurrence of disease or injury.
There are 3 levels of positive interference in the evolution of a morbid state or disease: primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.
Primary prevention is “the reduction of risk factors before occurrence of a disease, condition, or injury has occurred. “
Secondary prevention is “the early detection of the potential for the development of disease or condition or the existence of a disease while asymptomatic, to allow positive interference to prevent, postpone, or attenuate the symptomatic clinical state.”
Tertiary prevention is “the treatment of an existing symptomatic disease process or condition to ameliorate its effects, delay or prevent its progress.”
Preventive medicine encompasses the individual and the community: “it is concerned with the maintenance and promotion of health and the reduction of risk factors which result in injury and disease.”
A program based upon preventive medicine should be considered by companies designing strategies to improve their employees’ health. A foundation built upon scientifically validated approaches is proven to maintain and promote health. Shouldn’t everyone have access to preventive medicine specialists and programs so they can reduce their own risks of disease, disability and death?
The next post in this series will be on Dr. Dee Edington’s and others work on health risks, their impact on employees and employers and how to Zero Trend your health care costs.
Thanks to Kathy Fleming, Vice President of Markeing Communications at U.S. Preventive Medicine for assistance with this post.