Skip to main content

History of Preventive Medicine

  • Chapter


The concept of preventive health care is not modern. Before the 20th-century biomedical revolution, important advances had been made in the understanding and prevention of infectious diseases and nutritional deficiency. Long before the advent of scientific investigation into disease processes, men were explaining disease and attempting to avoid illness. In surveying historical efforts to prevent communicable diseases and nutritional deficiency diseases three categories of prevention are apparent; (1) individual control over personal health through adherence to dietary and hygiene codes; (2) social control over health by means of isolating diseased individuals or protecting large groups of people from environmental dangers; (3) application of increased scientific understanding of disease.


  • Preventive Care
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Typhoid Fever
  • American Public Health Association
  • Scarlet Fever

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   39.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Rosen, G.: Historical evaluation of primary prevention. Bull. NY Acad. Med. 51: 9–26, 1975.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Wain, H.: A History of Preventive Medicine. Charles C Thomas, Springfield, IL, 1970.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Winslow, C. E. A.: Foreword, in Shattuck, L., A Report of the Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts, 1850 (facsimile edition). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1948, pp. v–ix.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Neurotoxic disorders. Morbid. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 35: 113–116, 1986.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Garrison, F. H.: An Introduction to the History of Medicine. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1929.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Rosen, G.: Preventive medicine in the United States 1900-1975: Trends and interpretation, in Preventive Medicine USA, Prodist, New York, 1976, pp. 715–808.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Health People: The Surgeon General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. DHEW Pub. No. 79-55071, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1979, p. 53.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Terry, M.: Evolution of public health and preventive medicine in the United States. Am. J. Public Health 65: 161–168, 1975.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  9. Starr, P.: The Social Transformation of American Medicine. Basic Books, New York, 1982, pp. 180–197.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Osler, W.: The Evolution of Modern Medicine. Gryphon Editions, Birmingham, Alabama, 1982, pp. 218–233.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Neuhauser, D.: Don’t teach preventive medicine: A contrary view. Public Health Rep. 97: 220–222, 1982.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Relman, A. S.: Encouraging the practice of preventive medicine and health promotion. Public Health Rep. 97: 216–219, 1982.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Hutchinson, W.: Health insurance, or our financial relation to the public. JAMA 7: 477–481, 1886.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  14. Coker, R. E., Back, K. W., Donnelly, T. G., et al.: Public health as viewed by the medical student. Am. J. Public Health 49: 601–609, 1959.

    CrossRef  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Task Force Report—John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences and The American College of Preventative Medicine: Education and training of health manpower for prevention: An assessment of physician’s attitudes toward prevention, in Preventive Medicine USA. Prodist, New York, 1976, pp. 458–464.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Berg, R. L.: Prevention: Current status in undergraduate medical education. Public Health Rep. 97: 205–209, 1982.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Lewis, C.: Teaching medical students about disease prevention and health promotion. Public Health Rep. 97: 210–215, 1982.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 1988 Plenum Publishing Corporation

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Becker, D.M. (1988). History of Preventive Medicine. In: Becker, D.M., Gardner, L.B. (eds) Prevention in Clinical Practice. Springer, Boston, MA.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4684-5358-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4684-5356-0

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive