The earliest prevention stage of the disease is primordial. It targets the social condition that promotes disease onset, for example, making safe sidewalks to facilitate physical activity for people.
The primordial prevention stage aims to target social conditions.
Primary prevention is aiming to prevent disease before it occurs. Healthy people are the target population. Examples include activities that reduce the exposure from the cause or increase the immunity capability (e.g., COVID-19 vaccination).
Primary prevention aims to prevent disease in healthy individuals.
Secondary prevention is aiming to screen early for disease. Healthy people with subclinical features of the disease are the target population. Examples include a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer.
Secondary prevention aims at screening healthy-appearing individuals.
Tertiary prevention is aiming to treat disease to reduce the severity of the disease and its complications. Symptomatic people with the disease are the target population. Examples include rehabilitation and chemotherapy.
Tertiary prevention aims at the treatment of patients with the disease.
Quaternary prevention aims to avoid (quit) overmedicalization to reduce unnecessary medical interventions that are more harmful than their benefit. Patients with illness but without a disease are the target population. Examples include preventing polypharmacy and unnecessary imaging studies.
Quaternary aims to prevent overtreatment in managing disease.
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