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Tertiary Prevention

  1. Shelly F. Greenfield

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0983

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Greenfield, S. F. 2010. Tertiary Prevention. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The concept of tertiary prevention arises from the public health preventive services model (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 1996). In this model, preventive services are categorized into primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions. The goal of primary prevention is to decrease the prevalence of disease via a reduction in its rate of occurrence. Primary prevention is therefore directed at eliminating etiologic factors, thereby reducing the incidence of the disease or eradicating it entirely. A classic example of primary prevention is the use of immunization against measles and rubella to eliminate neonatal neurological impairment caused by these diseases. Secondary prevention works to reduce prevalence (a function of both duration and rate of occurrence of the illness) by decreasing the illness's duration through early intervention and effective treatment. Tertiary prevention efforts refer to interventions that aim to reduce the severity, discomfort, or disability associated with a disorder through rehabilitation or through the reduction of the acute and chronic complications of the disorder (Mrazek & Haggerty, 1994).


  • tertiary prevention;
  • rehabilitation;
  • schizophrenia;
  • substance use disorders;
  • mood disorders