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Basic principles of successful and unsuccessful prevention 

Basic principles of successful and unsuccessful prevention
Basic principles of successful and unsuccessful prevention

J. Frank

, R. Jepson

, and A. J. Williams

Page of

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date: 17 September 2021

Chapter 2 employs the historical example of Goldberger’s investigations of the major epidemic of pellagra in the southern USA in the early years of the twentieth century, to introduce the ‘hierarchy of preventive interventions.’ Subsequently, four worked examples are provided of recent preventive medical or community programme interventions that were widely implemented before adequate study of their actual effectiveness, arguably resulting in more harm than good. It is shown that the rather demanding scientific requirements for demonstrating the effectiveness of preventive medical and public health interventions are frequently not met prior to their widespread use. From these examples, the authors have derived some general lessons for avoiding the premature implementation of such bogus preventive interventions in the future.

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