Primary Prevention: Public Health Concept


Primary prevention is a public health concept of intervention that is used to eliminate the causes of a disease or a certain condition that could be affecting an individual and even a community. The concept is historically founded on the fact that removing the proven causes of a disease or a particular incidence will mean that the disease or that occurrence is unlikely to happen. For example, there is a connection between poor sanitation and the occurrence of cholera and typhoid. Primary prevention, therefore, aims at eliminating as much as possible, all the possible causes of a disease or any other hazardous condition in a community. Through such means, primary prevention meets its objective of promoting healthy communities, supporting education, and providing a safer environment for living.

Family Violence in the Community

Primary prevention used to manage community problems like family violence includes efforts to ensure healthy co-existence in the community (Humphreys & Campbell, 2010, p. 429). The primary prevention will therefore educate the members of the community on issues that involve violence, teach the community how to prevent this violence, and also how to avoid engaging in violence (Clark, 2008, p. 215). These educative programs help in reducing the level of family violence among communities. In the same spirit of reducing chances of evoking family violence, there is a need to develop activities that will occupy individuals’ time and then the thought of violence will be shifted in a constructive manner to productive ventures. Thus the use of primary prevention, couples and partners can be directed to engage in productive activities rather than violence (Clark, 2008, p. 215). Apart from that, the marriage counseling programs currently available in many communities will help in reducing cases of family violence in the community. When individual partners, couples, and family members attend a counseling session, then it’s likely that they are able to solve issues and marital conflicts effectively, hence preventing possible violence.

Family violence is a significant community health problem that is still affecting many families in the US and Europe even today. Studies show that family violence is exhibited along a continuum of actions that range from episodic fights, single or occasional aggression to regular fights and battering. Battering is more common and intensive violence where one partner takes control of the other by the fights (Chamberlain, 2008, para. 3). However, the good news is that these violent events are preventable, from the occasional violence to battering. The key to finding the best solution to the problem as far as the primary prevention strategy is concerned is to aim at dealing with first-time perpetrators and their victims.

Defining Family Violence

There are varied definitions of family violence depending on the degree to which abuse or pain is inflicted on the other partner ranging from non-physical abuse to violent aggression with physician infliction of pain. For the sake of this study, family violence will include any action that is purposively done or perceived to be done to cause physical pain to another family member in an intimate relationship (Clark, 2008, p. 219). It’s evident that conflicts in a family are not only inevitable but necessary. However, when the conflict results in violence, then that problem has gotten out of hand and needs a proper and lasting solution.

Everyone in a marriage relationship can agree to this presumption that they have at least experienced a major marital disagreement even though they may have managed to solve their disputes peacefully. Women are in most cases the victims and men the perpetrators of violence in male-dominated communities (Chrisler & Ferguson, 2006, p. 236). In some cases, the disagreements in marriage can escalate to levels that the spouses are overpoweringly distressed and disappointed about the marital relationship that they begin questioning whether would want to remain married or get out of the marriage (Clark, 2008, p. 219)

The Risks and Protective Factors

The primary prevention of family violence identifies five factors that have been greatly linked to this community vice (Humphreys & Campbell, 2010, p. 429). These factors include individuals, surrounding environment, beliefs and societal attitudes, and interaction larger eco-system.


There are several personal attributes that are closely correlated with violence perpetration. Family conflicts are any serious or minor interpersonal differences that involve one partner having different thoughts, opinions, or ideas. Individual factors affecting the perception of people include age, personality, income, substance abuse, gender, violence, and family background history (Chamberlain, 2008, para. 3). Statistics show that younger men are more likely to engage in violence against their spouses than older men. Gender as a factor shows that men are often the perpetrators as revealed by intimate homicide cases and other domestic violence researches (Humphreys & Campbell, 2010, p. 429).

For substance abuse, many perpetrators of family violence are drug abusers. Drug use causes irrational decisions and aggression which easily culminates in violence. For family background, research has found that a significant number of perpetrators of violence are those individuals who witness violence or were victims of violence in their childhood (Chamberlain, 2008, para. 5). Particularly, men who were sexually and physically abused in childhood are likely to severely and violently fight their partner as adults.

Surrounding environment

Beyond individuals lays a number of factors in the environment that can cause violent behavior against a spouse. In an intimate relationship, these factors include the economic independence of partners, the height of verbal arguments, status discrepancy, and stage of the marriage, and the beliefs of male supremacy (Lutzker, 2006, p. 62). While these could be regarded as individual factors, they mostly occur within a relationship context hence are brought about by that situation and are not innate. Besides the perpetrator’s general view of violence, societal position and peer groupings are other factors that can cause violence.

Interaction with larger eco-system

Larger organizational systems form the basis on which people rate their behavior. The global factors that determine character are crucial for study in such a case. The risk factors for domestic violence have been identified as including low education level, unemployment, low-status jobs, and generally low-income earnings (Lutzker, 2006, p. 67). Statistics have shown that a greater percentage of family violence cases are from those people who are suffering because of their being poor, have low income, feel oppressed at their workplaces, are bankrupt, and are less educated.

Social beliefs and Attitudes

Many of the factors found to be posing greater risks of violence are societal attitudes and uninformed beliefs that individuals tend to act upon. At times it’s very hard to separate the factors into one category or ecology (Chamberlain, 2008, para. 5). Some of the factors here include societal approval of physically punishing women, rigid roles of families based on gender, male masculinity, societal beliefs of ownership of women, and social support of using violence to settle disputes (Chrisler & Ferguson, 2006, p. 237). It’s pertinent to note that not all people who hold such beliefs or are brought up in such societies are perpetrators but rather this is a strong predictor of related family violence.

Comprehensive Health Program

Primary prevention is a cost-effective means of addressing public or community problems because it helps to contain the situation hence preventing the occurrence of the problem. Basically in any problem, being able to prevent the full consequences of the problem is a great step towards managing the cost of dealing with the problem had it occurred (Lutzker, 2006, p. 67). Primary prevention’s efficiency can be assessed. For instance, the effect of family violence can be; stressed couples, marriage breakup, and depression in children, physical injury, emotional torture, health care expenses, and other damages to societal norms (Chrisler & Ferguson, 2006, p. 239). However, the primary prevention strategy addresses the causes of the violence mentioned above, and then solutions are offered based on the cause. The community is educated on the consequences of violence as well as the benefits of peaceful resolution of conflict. This is cheaper hence making it cost-effective (Humphreys & Campbell, 2010, p. 431).

A comprehensive health plan on the other hand utilizes all three levels of prevention. Primary prevention has already been addressed to greater length and its goal is to prevent the occurrence of the causes of a problem (Lutzker, 2006, p. 67). This is why the strategy deals with risk factors that are associated with that problem like in this case of domestic violence.

Secondary prevention

Is the second step of prevention where the risks and problems are identified and then the appropriate steps are taken to alleviate the risk and the possible problem. Whereas the strategies here appear to be more of intervention than preventative, the aim is to create opportunities where the problems can be identified before they explode or become evident and intervention introduced immediately to curb the progression of the problem (Lutzker, 2006, p. 67). Screening programs are typical examples of what secondary prevention is. When individuals are screened for domestic violence, then the care provider can provide the required support and even make referrals for the individuals who disclosed abuse so that they can reduce the possibility of more victimization and devastating health impact (Humphreys & Campbell, 2010, p. 431).

Tertiary prevention

This level of prevention occurs when the situation or the problems was adverse. The tertiary prevention is hence designed to reduce the consequences of the unpleasant event and then restore the wellness of the situation as soon as possible. Sometimes, scholars argue that this is not a prevention strategy because violence has already taken place (Lutzker, 2006, p. 67). Nevertheless, faster and coordinated response and subsequent follow-up can diminish the result of victimization and hence avert predictable, long-term outcomes and re-victimization (Humphreys & Campbell, 2010, p. 433). Tertiary prevention of family violence includes all of the services that target survivors and perpetrators following a violent confrontation. It’s crucial as a first responder for immediate medical care for physical injuries as well as long-term services including counseling and so on.


For primary prevention efforts, the factors the can be used to prevent family violence are not well researched but many studies today are working to find better ways of preventing violence by looking at the developmental pathways of violence. Additionally, governments are working to assess the efficiency of the existing violence resolution programs to enhance success cases and use them to devise new programs for primary prevention. It’s obvious dealing or addressing the risk factors of the family violence work best here.

Reference List

Chamberlain, L. (2008). A Prevention Primer for Domestic Violence: Terminology, Tools, and the Public Health Approach. A Project of the National Resource Centre on Domestic Violence/Pennsylvania Coalition against Domestic Violence. Web.

Chrisler, J.C., & Ferguson, S. (2006). Violence against Women as a Public Health Issue, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1087, 235-249.

Clark, M. (2008). Community Health Nursing: Advocacy for Population Health. (5th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Humphreys, J., & Campbell, J. (2010). Family Violence and Nursing Practice. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Lutzker, J. R. (2006). Preventing Violence: Research and Evidence-Based Intervention Strategies. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

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