Preventive medicine focuses on preventing diseases, injuries, and other health-related issues before they occur. It involves measures to promote health and well-being rather than just treating illnesses after they develop. It is a multifaceted health discipline involving many approaches in nearly all healthcare and public health science areas.


Here are nine exciting things you might not have known about preventive medicine:


1. Historical Roots and Pioneering Figures

Preventive medicine has ancient roots. Early civilisations, such as ancient Egypt and Greece, recognised the importance of public health measures such as sanitation, quarantine, and dietary regulations.

While preventative medicine has existed for millennia, in some form or another, several key figures, including doctors, chemists, and other scientists, have been identified as pioneering the discipline in some capacity.

Dr. Edward Jenner, an English physician, is often regarded as the pioneer of preventive medicine for developing the smallpox vaccine in the late 18th century, eventually eradicating the disease.

Others believe the modern era in preventive medicine began in the mid-19th century with Louis Pasteur’s discovery of the role of living microbes in causing infections.

In any case, it is clear that the work of countless professionals over the past couple of hundred years has contributed to the creation of modern preventive medicine as it exists today. 



2. Global Impact

Preventive measures such as vaccination campaigns have led to the eradication or significant reduction of many deadly diseases, including smallpox, polio, and measles, saving millions of lives worldwide.


3. Economic Benefits

Preventive medicine is beneficial for individual health and has significant economic advantages. Studies have shown that every dollar invested in preventive health measures can result in substantial savings in healthcare costs.

In Australia, as of 2019, estimates of the annual productivity loss that could be attributed to individual and preventable risk factors were between $840 million and $14.9 billion for obesity, up to $10.5 billion due to tobacco; between $1.1 billion and $6.8 billion for excess alcohol consumption; up to $15.6 billion due to physical inactivity and $561 million for individual dietary risk factors. Productivity impacts were included in 15 studies, and the human capital approach was the most often employed (14 studies) to calculate this.

4. Lifestyle Medicine

Lifestyle medicine is an emerging field within preventive medicine that focuses on addressing underlying lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress, and sleep to prevent and manage chronic diseases.


5. Population Health

Preventive medicine often involves population-level interventions aimed at improving the health of entire communities, such as public health campaigns, policy changes, and environmental regulations.

Notwithstanding, there are still preventable deaths within any modern population. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2021, there were 26,967 potentially avoidable deaths in Australia: half (48%) of all deaths for people aged less than 75. Of these deaths, 63% were male and 37% were female. 

On a positive note, potentially avoidable age-standardised death rates fell by 41% between 2001 and 2021 (from 162 to 96 deaths per 100,000 population), which reflects the impact and progression of preventative medicine on populations in recent times.

6. Technology Integration

Advances in technology, such as wearable fitness trackers, genetic testing, and telemedicine, are increasingly being integrated into preventive medicine practices to enhance disease prevention and early detection.

7. Anti-Ageing Medicine and Precision Prevention

Anti-aging is a new and emerging field of medicine. While it currently does not have a wealth of peer-reviewed research supporting it, there will no doubt be more evidence-based results produced shortly. Much research is currently being done to focus on slowing down or even reversing the effects of aging with biohacking and pharmacotherapy.

Typically, this area of medicine involves a multidisciplinary approach to health. A medical clinic specialising in anti-aging medicine will employ a team of experts, including anti-aging specialists, physicians and other medical specialists, integrative doctors, nutritionists, and fitness specialists, who will work collaboratively to provide patients with a comprehensive assessment of their current health and to craft a tailored plan to address their unique needs and goals.


With the advent of precision medicine, preventive strategies are becoming more personalised. They consider individual genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors to tailor interventions for maximum effectiveness.

8. Health Equity

Addressing health disparities and promoting health equity are essential components of preventive medicine, as access to preventive services and resources can vary significantly among different populations.

An example of this is the health disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Australia. Indigenous people in Australia represent the most significant health inequity compared with the broader community of any group in the country. Indigenous life expectancy is approximately 17 years lower than the non-Indigenous population, and Indigenous people have higher rates of death for almost all causes.This is an example of where ease of access to healthcare can significantly affect health outcomes, even in a country with one of the best healthcare systems in the world.


9. Continuum of Care

Preventive medicine is not limited to specific interventions. Still, it encompasses a continuum of care, from primary prevention (preventing disease onset) to secondary prevention (early detection and treatment of disease) and tertiary prevention (reducing the impact of established diseases and preventing complications).


These facts underscore preventive medicine’s diverse and impactful nature in promoting health and well-being at individual, community, and global levels.