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PI Pick The Spectrum of Prevention: Developing a Comprehensive Approach To Injury Prevention

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The Spectrum of Prevention helps expand prevention efforts beyond education models by promoting a multifaceted range of activities for effective prevention. Originally developed by Larry Cohen while he was director of the Contra Costa Health Services Prevention Program, the Spectrum is based on the work of Dr. Marshall Swift in treating developmental disabilities. It has been used nationally in prevention initiatives targeting traffic safety, violence prevention, injury prevention, nutrition, and fitness.

The Spectrum identifies multiple levels of intervention and encourages people to move beyond the perception that prevention is about teaching healthy behaviors. The Spectrum's six levels for strategy development (listed below) is a framework for a more comprehensive understanding of prevention. These levels are complementary and when used together produce a synergy that results in greater effectiveness than would be possible by implementing any single activity. At each level, the most important activities related to prevention objectives should be identified. As these activities are identified, they will lead to interrelated actions at other levels of the Spectrum.


"Thank you, once again, for this treasure.  [The Spectrum] provides a roadmap for creative, structured thinking every time I introduce it to a group.  It's one of my best teaching tools..."
- Kathleen M. Roe, DrPH, MPH, Professor/Chair, Health Science Department, San Jose State University

"The Spectrum of Prevention provides a clear picture of the actions that are needed to accomplish social norms change."
- Web Forum Participant

Click here to see Prevention Institute papers that illustrate the Spectrum's use.

Associated File(s) (click to download):


Prevention is Primary


Read Chapter One here

Book cover photo credit G.Meyer(c)2006