Topic 1 Introduction- Types of Preventive Interventions

The preventive interventions can be categorized into three groups:

  • Universal prevention
  • Selective prevention
  • Indicated prevention

Universal Preventive Interventions

  • Key characteristic: Universal preventive interventions are targeting an entire population group (e.g. all children in one school, or community, or at least one class)
  • These interventions are aiming to reduce the problem prevalence in the entire population by:
    • decreasing the risk
    • promoting the protective factors.
  • Universal preventive programs include:
    • policies
    • school-based programs.
  • It is shown that the universal prevention intervention has the greatest impact

Selective Preventive Interventions

  • Selective preventive interventions are targeting specific population group, which is identified as a high risk for some health problems (smoking, alcohol misuse, problematic internet use)
  • It is important to adequately identify those at the high-risk category
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Children/ adolescents with previously identified mental health issues
  • Children/adolescents whose parents have mental health issues or substance use.
  • Lack of social skills
  • Have limited effect- since they are not population-based
  • In selective preventive interventions we do not assess the individual risks, only the factor of being in the high-risk group
  • They are often longer or more intensive than universal preventive programs

Indicated Prevention Interventions

  • Targeting those who already smoke, or use alcohol, so that they do not develop the disorder, such as alcohol misuse
  • Indicated prevention programs are:
    • very expensive
    • resource consuming,
    • cost-effective (they allow the creators to avoid the development of the disorder and its consequences)
  • Program developers choose
  • The greatest benefits are described for universal prevention programs, as it is not only those in high-risk categories that develop some problem but often people (children/ adolescents) that could be regarded as low risk can develop problematic behaviour.