preventive medicine, branch of medicine dealing with the prevention of disease and the maintenance of good health practices. Until recently preventive medicine was largely the domain of the U.S. Public Health Service or state and local health departments, but it has become an important consideration of health maintenance organizations, private practitioners, and other health care providers. Preventive medicine encompasses such activities as research into causes of disease; vaccination against those diseases for which the causes are known, e.g., poliomyelitis, influenza, and measles; studies of environmental deterrents to health; and instruction in public health and hygiene. See also eugenics.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.