Preventive medicine or preventive care consists of measures taken to prevent diseases, (or injuries) rather than curing them or treating their symptoms.
This contrasts in method with curative and palliative medicine, and is in scope with public health methods (which work at the level of population health rather than individual health).
Preventive medicine strategies are typically described as taking place at the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary prevention levels.
- Primary prevention: methods to avoid occurrence of disease.
- Secondary prevention: methods to diagnose and treat existent disease in early stages before it causes significant morbidity.
- Tertiary prevention: methods to reduce negative impact of existent disease by restoring function and reducing disease-related complications.
- Quaternary prevention: methods to mitigate or avoid results of unnecessary or excessive interventions in the health system.