The Pivotal Role of Prevention Science in This Syndemic

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract

Never before has the value of prevention science become so apparent to the populace, particularly in simultaneous fashion across all nations. A general understanding of what prevention represents in true form has lagged well behind the science and, in fact, few outside of the field recognize that there is actually a significant body of research that undergirds preventative practices, programs and policies. The current pandemic and the uneven impacts on underserved and marginalized populations has highlighted the need for proactive approaches to prevent underlying conditions that increase risk for infection, worsen the wide ranging harms from the virus, and significantly exacerbate disparities that characterize many nations. To ensure uptake of the science by end-users (e.g., community stakeholders, practitioners, policymakers), who operate the levers that determine whether resources and services are distributed equitably across societies’ sectors, prevention scientists have a unique and powerful role to play. This commentary on the special issue, focused on the “culture of prevention,” considers the broader issues covered in the set of original articles in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Toward that end, I also outline two interrelated “calls to action” for prevention scientists. The first call is to concertedly apply a race equity lens to all aspects of our research, a need that is particularly critical given that our field is inherently actionable and, as such, evidence amassed has potential to equalize the playing field for disadvantaged and marginalized groups. The second acknowledges the need for prevention scientists to learn how to effectively communicate scientific knowledge to the public and policymakers to compellingly advocate for reforms guided by the science. A powerful, research-backed collective advocacy can effectively sway action of governing bodies in addressing disparities and inequities for constituents who have no voice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-99
Number of pages6
JournalPrevention Science
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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