The Value of Primary Prevention

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the primacy of primary prevention to maintain wellbecoming. The governmental recommendations or requirements for quarantines or sheltering in place during the pandemic are targeted to primary prevention.

However, few people worldwide unfortunately think primary prevention. Instead, far too many global citizens avoid vaccinations or screening tests and wait until they are obviously ill to seek care. Furthermore, governments rarely fund primary prevention efforts until such massive disruption as a major epidemic or pandemic occurs, as we have learned from media reports of no funds to prepare at least possibly effective vaccines and screening tests ahead of outbreaks of novel viruses. According to a recent report on public radio, proposals for studies of the effectiveness of quarantines have not been funded for many years, although the current pandemic may loosen the governmental purse strings.

As always, nursology has an answer to how to emphasize primary prevention. Specifically, Florence Nightingale successfully advocated for a clean environment (clean air, clean water, etc.) as a way to maintain wellness.

Nightingale’s ideas have been translated into contemporary nursology, especially in the Neuman Systems Model. This nursology conceptual model includes primary prevention as intervention as one of three intervention modalities (the others are secondary prevention as intervention and tertiary prevention as intervention (see Although other conceptual models do not explicitly focus on primary prevention, the intention certainly is to promote wellness.

© 2018 Jacqueline Fawcett

My understanding of our history tells me that nursologists have always had the moral courage to advocate for and implement primary prevention while at the same time providing superb secondary and tertiary prevention for all people worldwide.

Poremba (2019), who has studied the 1918-1919 pandemic, pointed out that then and now, nurses are best positioned to care for people. She declared, “If there is anything positive to come from the coronavirus, it may be that we recognize the essential value of skilled nurses. This means expanding our nursing workforce and advancing their training in caring for patients with acute and infectious diseases in hospitals and homes.” Although her focus is on secondary and tertiary prevention, we can expand her message to include the essential value of nursologists in providing primary prevention.


Poremba, B. A. (2019, March 15). Column: Nurses needed now. Gloucester [Massachusetts] Daily Times. Retrieved from

6 thoughts on “The Value of Primary Prevention

  1. A friend, Vasti Jackson, is making a video to thank nurses and members of other caring professions/occupations who are on the front line during the pandemic. He is inviting pictures of nurses, including names and names of work places that he will include in the video. The video will be ever-expanding to incorporate pictures as they come in. Send pictures to:

    It’s a legitimate project of gratitude, will not be monetized in any way. Based on a song he wrote as Artist-in-Residence at the Anne Boykin Instittue Summer Academy 2018 called Nursing Angels,

  2. Thank-you for sharing. Primary prevention has been heavy on my mind as healthcare systems across the U.S are financially devastated by this pandemic. All the band aids the healthcare systems have used like elective surgeries and procedures to generate profits since there is no money in prevention or illness have been ripped off and it is clear changes need to be made.

  3. I extend my thanks to everyone who commented on this blog, and to all of you who read the blog but did not comment. Thank you to Paul for correcting the date for the Poremba citation and reference–2020 is correct. I guess I am in a bit of denial about this year with all the challenges of the pandemic! Best wishes to everyone for remaining well and safe.

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