Home > Prevention is better than cure, so why aren’t we doing more of it?

Cairney, Paul . (2018) Prevention is better than cure, so why aren’t we doing more of it? Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy blog

URL: https://paulcairney.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/preve...

Does this sound familiar? A new government comes into office, promising to shift the balance in social and health policy from expensive remedial, high dependency care to prevention and early intervention. They commit to better policy-making; they say they will join up policy and program delivery, devolving responsibility to the local level and focusing on long term outcomes rather than short term widgets; and that they will ensure policy is evidence-based. And then it all gets too hard, and the cycle begins again, leaving some exhausted and disillusioned practitioners in its wake. Why does this happen repeatedly, across different countries and with governments of different persuasions, even with the best will in the world?’
◾You’ll see from the question that I am not suggesting that all prevention or early intervention policies fail. Rather, I use policy theories to provide a general explanation for a major gap between the (realistic) expectations expressed in prevention strategies and the actual outcomes. We can then talk about how to close that gap.
◾You’ll also see the phrase ‘even with the best will in the world’, which I think is key to this talk. No-one needs me to rehearse the usually-vague and often-stated ways to explain failed prevention policies, including the ‘wickedness’ of policy problems, or the ‘pathology’ of public policy. Rather, I show that such policies may ‘fail’ even when there is wide and sincere cross-party agreement about the need to shift from reactive to more prevention policy design. I also suggest that the general explanation for failure – low ‘political will’ – is often damaging to the chances for future success.
◾Let’s start by defining prevention policy and policymaking.


Item Type:Evidence resource
Drug Type:Alcohol or other drugs in general
Intervention Type:AOD disorder, AOD prevention, Crime prevention
Date:14 October 2018
EndNote:View
Subjects:J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Substance use prevention
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention outcome
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention programme or service
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention approach > Family-focused prevention
T Demographic characteristics > Prevention worker

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