Moving Toward a Precision-Based, Personalized Framework for Prevention Science: Introduction to the Special Issue

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The goal of this Special Issue is to introduce prevention scientists to an emerging form of healthcare, called precision medicine. This approach integrates investigation of the mechanisms of disease and health-compromising behaviors with prevention, treatment, and cure resolved at the level of the individual. Precision Medicine and its derivative personalized prevention represents a promising paradigm for prevention science as it accounts for response heterogeneity and guides development of targeted interventions that may enhance program effect sizes. If successfully integrated into prevention science research, personalized prevention is an approach that can inform the development of decision support tools (screening measures, prescriptive algorithms) and enhance the utility of mobile health technologies that will enable practitioners to use personalized consumer data to inform decisions about the best type and/or intensity of a prevention strategy for particular individuals or subgroups of individuals. In this special issue, we present conceptual articles that provide a heuristic framework for precision-based, personalization prevention research and empirical studies that address research questions exemplary of a new generation of precision-based personalized preventive interventions focused on children’s mental health, behavioral health, and education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In recent years, there has been a call to action to explore personalized approaches in healthcare diagnostics and therapeutics referred to as precision medicine (PM) (e.g., Burke and Psaty 2007; Leeder and Spielberg 2009). Leaders at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have voiced strong support for personalized approaches across various healthcare disciplines (Collins and Varmus 2015). In support of this approach, President Obama unveiled a bold new Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) in 2015 ( to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease based on the premise that accounting for individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles will improve both disease prevention and treatment. The White House and NIH have embraced PM as a national priority with $215 million allocated for this initiative in FY2016 and another $309 million in FY2017 (NIH 2016). An outgrowth of this initiative is the launch of the BALL OF US^ Research Program—the largest longitudinal study in the history of the USA (1 million volunteers). This study will serve as a database for biomedical and behavioral research by identifying individual differences in disease etiology and course via a comprehensive information technology infrastructure that will be the vehicle for collecting, analyzing, and sharing patient data (Sankar and Parker 2017).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Society for Prevention Research.


  • Children’s mental health
  • Indicated prevention
  • Personalized prevention
  • Precision medicine
  • Selective prevention
  • Tailoring technologies
  • Targeted interventions
  • Universal prevention


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