Prevention is better than cure

07 March 2013

Many people have a poor understanding of the degree to which certain illnesses and conditions are preventable. This is the finding of Karen Moore and colleagues in their study “Community understanding of the preventability of major health conditions as a measure of health literacy”, published in the latest issue of Australian Journal of Rural Health.

The researchers measured people’s perceptions of six conditions considered to be all or mostly preventable: skin cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer, high blood pressure, heart attack and diabetes. Just over 50 per cent of people perceived skin cancer as all or mostly preventable, followed by lung cancer (35.5 per cent) and high blood pressure (34.0 per cent). Heart attack was perceived to be preventable by only 14.7 per cent of those interviewed.

So despite prevention strategies by government and non-government agencies, some key messages are not getting through to everyone, including those living in rural and remote areas. As the authors put it, “Efforts need to be directed towards improving the public’s knowledge of disease prevention and to ensure that health promotion programs reach populations with the most need”.

Autism is a condition which remains an enigma – including where prevention is concerned. In Australia, one child in 160 has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Given its prevalence and challenges of parenting a child with autism, there is a need for parental education programs. This need is amplified for parents in rural and remote areas who are more likely to have poor access to specialised services and support.

“Understanding Autism and understanding my child with Autism”, in the same issue of AJRH, presents the findings of original research by Judy Farmer and Andrea Reupert. The authors evaluate a program to improve parents’ knowledge and understanding of Autism, improve their confidence in managing their child, and decrease their parental anxiety.

Although access is usually available by subscription, the February edition of the Australian Journal of Rural Health with these thought-provoking articles and others is free via the NRHA website or on the website of the AJRH’s publisher, Wiley-Blackwell:

Note: the Prime Minister recently announced funding for a new Cooperative Research Centre in Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders: world-class-research

Media Enquiries: 

Peter Brown, Manager, AJRH: 02 6285 4660

The Australian Journal of Rural Health is one of the world’s very few peer reviewed multidisciplinary journals about rural and remote health. It is owned by the National Rural Health Alliance.

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