Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Public Health

  • Marc D. GellmanEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_338-2


Public health refers to activities by which a society attempts to increase life expectancy, decrease morbidity, and help improve health-related quality of life.


An important cornerstone of public health is prevention. Primary prevention refers to measures taken to reduce the incidence of disease. In the case of CVD (cardiovascular disease), for example, people may be encouraged to quit smoking, decrease intake of dietary fat, and increase physical activity before diseases become evident. In contrast, secondary prevention involves reducing the prevalence of disease by shortening its duration. Mortality from certain cancers, for example, prostate cancer, is decreased by early detection of the cancers when they are still treatable. Still another form of prevention is tertiary prevention. This involves reducing the complications associated with chronic diseases reducing the complications associated with chronic diseases and minimizing disability and suffering....

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References and Further Reading

  1. Bor, J., Cohen, G. H., & Galea, S. (2017). Population health in an era of rising income inequality: USA, 1980–2015. Lancet, 389, 1475–1490.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30571-8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1999). Achievements in public health, 1900–1999; Changes in the public health system. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 48, 1141–1147.Google Scholar
  3. Institute of Medicine. (2001a). Health and behaviour: The interplay of biological, behavioural and societal influences. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  4. Institute of Medicine. (2001b). New horizons in health: An integrative approach. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  5. Kawachi, I. (1999). Social capital and community effects on population and individual health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 896, 120–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Posner, S. F. (2012). Advancing and improving preventing chronic disease: Public health research, practice and policy. Preventing Chronic Disease, 9, 110291.  https://doi.org/10.5888/pcd9.110291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Schneider, M. J. (2011). Introduction to public health (2nd ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett Learning.Google Scholar
  8. Smedley, B. D., & Syme, S. L. (2000). Promoting health: Intervention strategies from social and behavioral research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  9. Turnock, B. J. (2012). Essentials of public health (2nd ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett Learning.Google Scholar
  10. Watts, N., Adger, W. N., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., et al. (2016). The Lancet Countdown: Tracking progress on health and climate change. Lancet, 389, 1151–1164.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32124-9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Watts, N., Amann, M., Arnell, N., et al. (2018). The 2018 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: Shaping the health of nations for centuries to come. Lancet., 392, 2479–2514.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32594-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. World Health Organization. (2000). The world health report 2000: Executive summary. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine Research Center, Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • J. Rick Turner
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical Communications, QuintilesDurhamUSA