Beyond Trauma pp 277-297 | Cite as

Primary Prevention of Traumatic Stress Caused by War

  • Victor W. Sidel
  • Berthold P. R. Gersons
  • Jos M. P. Weerts
Part of the The Plenum Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


Prevention of health problems is conventionally described as having two levels. Primary prevention is the prevention of the underlying illness or trauma itself by intervention to eliminate one or more of its causes. Encouragement of abstinence from cigarette smoking, for example, is an important method of the primary prevention of lung cancer in both the smoker and the nearby inhalers of the sidestream smoke. Secondary prevention is the prevention of one or more of the consequences of illness or trauma by intervention after the illness process has begun or the trauma has occurred. The early detection and treatment of lung cancer—preferably during the asymptomatic phase before the illness has risen “above the clinical horizon”—has been demonstrated to be effective in limiting the consequences of the illness in a significant number of patients. A third level, sometimes called tertiary prevention but more commonly known as treatment or rehabilitation, seeks to prevent the progression of the disease after the symptoms appear (Last, 1992). Figure 1 indicates the “windows” (time periods during which opportunities exist) for prevention during the progression of an illness.


Primary Prevention Nuclear Weapon Traumatic Stress Chemical Weapon Collective Security 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor W. Sidel
    • 1
  • Berthold P. R. Gersons
    • 2
  • Jos M. P. Weerts
    • 3
  1. 1.Montefiore Medical CenterAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  2. 2.Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands
  3. 3.BNMO-Centre (Veterans Center)DoornNetherlands

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