The classical threecomponent model

If ways of reducing the quantity of disorder in a population are considered, prevention tends to be distinguished from treatment as a separate mode of intervention. Yet the conventional classification of preventive interventions into primary, secondary, and tertiary blurs this distinction. It has its strengths, notably a conceptual closeness to epidemiology. Graham(3) pointed out how primary prevention, the attempt to prevent disorders occurring in the first place, could be restated as applying to interventions that reduce incidence. Secondary interventions, intended to apply the earliest possible treatment following diagnosis before suffering and disability become established, would reduce prevalence by shortening the duration of the disorder, and tertiary measures are intended to reduce disability and deterioration.

On the other hand, the conventional model has weaknesses. Several authorities have pointed out that secondary and tertiary prevention can also be viewed as good-quality treatment and rehabilitation, so it has been suggested that 'early intervention' is a preferred term for describing a combination of primary and secondary prevention. Treatment and prevention at this level merge into each other. The matter becomes more blurred if the question is posed: What is being prevented?

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