Cutting the Costs: Prevention is worth the investment

March 2, 2017

There’s an old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when referring to health-related issues. Preventive measures such as health education or health screenings have been shown to help combat major public health issues and be cost-effective in the long-term.

money

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that in 2015, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug abuse cost the United States more than $700 billion in expenses related to:

  • Crime
  • Lost work productivity
  • Health care

According to the National Institutes of Health, to ensure that high-quality disease prevention research is being used to improve the health of all Americans, it is important to apply evidence-based research when making decisions and designing programs and interventions. The Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) program has been tested in a series of randomized trials and found effective in preventing cigarette smoking, alcohol, and drug use as well as other risky health behaviors in youth.

What makes LST stand out from other abuse prevention programs is it’s curriculum focusing on topics that support resisting the pressure to use drugs, such as developing a strong self-image and skills in decision making and communication.

Researchers found that the program produced as much as a $50 benefit to communities for every $1 invested –yielding the highest return of any substance abuse prevention curriculum studied.

The implementation process is also user friendly and convenient in that there are:

  • Interactive delivery methods
  • Brief provider trainings
  • Convenient online exercises

Therefore, when working to combat the substance abuse epidemic in the U.S., it is important that health professionals and policymakers focus not only on the health benefits of prevention but also become aware of the potential economic benefits of different prevention methods in order to make informed decisions for funding and resources.

 

Contributing Writer: Christina Auth recently graduated from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and a minor in Sociology.  She is currently interested in global health issues and has studied abroad in countries such as Australia, Barbados, and South Africa observing and researching from an ecological perspective; rural health issues, tropical diseases, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Christina is passionate about epidemiology and environmental health issues that affect diverse communities.  Some of her career aspirations include getting her Masters of Public Health, working for the Peace Corps., and becoming a college professor. In her free time she likes to go on hikes near her house because South Carolina was extremely flat or travel to visit friends in other cities.  She is a huge soup fanatic and loves the band Coldplay.


Evidence-Based Prevention is Focus of Military Study

July 17, 2009

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has announced that a  team of four research institutions, with $50 million in funding from the U.S. Army, will carry out the largest study of suicide and mental health among military personnel ever.

Study investigators hope to quickly identify risk and protective factors for suicide among soldiers and provide a science base for effective and practical interventions to reduce suicide rates and address associated mental health problems.

The study will use several strategies to generate information on risk and protective factors:

  • The Army already has a rich archive of data on its personnel. Study investigators will work to consolidate information from different databases and use this resource to identify possible suicide risk and protective factors.
  • Investigators will undertake a retrospective case-control study in which individual soldiers who have attempted suicide with or without fatal outcomes (cases) will be matched with individuals with similar demographic characteristics (controls). Comparison of information gathered on cases and controls should provide clues to risk and protective factors.
  • A survey for which 90,000 active Army personnel representative of the entire Army will be contacted will provide information on the prevalence of suicide-related behavior and risk and protective factors. When possible, saliva and blood samples will be collected for genetic and neurobiologic studies.
  • All 80,000 to 120,000 recruits who enter the Army in each of the first three years of the study will be asked to participate in a survey similar to the all-Army survey above.

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