Child vaccinations, tobacco-cessation counseling and treatment, and screening for vision impairment in the elderly are the most important preventive services — from the standpoints of cost-effectiveness, reducing the necessity of treatment for illness, and averting injury — according to rankings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Fewer than half of those who could benefit from the tobacco and vision interventions receive them.
The rankings, developed by the D.C.-based coalition Partnership for Prevention and funded by the Centers for Disease Control, considered the public-health impact and expense of 30 interventions recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The goal was to give health plans and policy makers a tool when deciding how to allocate funding for preventive care.
Researchers found that counseling and treatment for tobacco cessation would prevent 70,000 deaths in one year and would be worth the expense in terms of illness that otherwise would have to be treated. Part of the reason some preventive services aren't rendered, says the Partnership, is that many recommended interventions go uncovered by health plans or employers.