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Prevention vs. Intervention: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 8, 2023
Prevention involves actions taken to avoid potential problems. Intervention refers to steps taken to address and rectify existing issues.

Key Differences

Prevention and intervention are both proactive approaches, but they differ significantly in their timing and intention. Prevention is grounded in foresight, aiming to stop potential problems before they arise. By educating, informing, or implementing safety measures, prevention hopes to create environments where potential issues are minimized or entirely avoided.
On the other hand, intervention steps in once a problem has manifested. It seeks to address and hopefully rectify the existing situation. Intervention methods are diverse, ranging from counseling sessions for individuals with substance abuse issues to support groups for those facing specific challenges. The overarching goal of intervention is to bring about positive change in the face of a present challenge.
While prevention focuses on the proactive, aiming to deter the onset of problems, intervention is reactive, addressing problems that have already emerged. For instance, in a school setting, prevention might involve anti-bullying campaigns, while intervention would be the steps taken once a bullying incident occurs.
In the healthcare sector, prevention often encompasses vaccinations, regular check-ups, and healthy lifestyle promotions. Meanwhile, intervention might be the treatment prescribed once a disease is diagnosed. Both prevention and intervention are crucial, serving to maintain the well-being of individuals and communities.

Comparison Chart


To avoid potential problems
To address and rectify existing problems


Before an issue arises
After an issue has manifested




Vaccinations, safety drills
Counseling, rehabilitation programs

Outcome Desired

To never have the problem occur
To mitigate or resolve a current problem

Prevention and Intervention Definitions


Action designed to preclude an event or condition.
Sunscreen serves as a prevention against sunburn.


Actions taken to improve or help a particular situation.
The teacher's intervention helped resolve the classroom dispute.


Efforts to deter potential issues or conditions.
The new traffic system is a prevention strategy against accidents.


The act of coming between or stepping in to change an outcome.
His friend's intervention helped him quit smoking.


A proactive stance taken to avoid harm.
The camp's bear-proof measures were a prevention against wildlife encounters.


Direct involvement in a situation to modify the results.
Military intervention was discussed as a possible solution.


The act of stopping something from happening.
Regular exercise is often seen as prevention against many health issues.


Interference in a process to produce a different result.
The central bank's market intervention stabilized the currency.


The act of preventing something
The prevention of illness.


A strategy or treatment implemented to bring about positive change.
Early intervention can be key in developmental challenges.


The act of preventing or hindering; obstruction of action, access, or approach; thwarting.
A fire prevention campaign


The act or process of intervening
A nation's military interventions in neighboring countries.
A politician opposed to government intervention in the market economy.


(medicine) Any measure intended to limit health-related risks (such as information campaigns, vaccination, early diagnosis etc.).


The systematic process of assessment and planning employed to remediate or prevent a social, educational, or developmental problem
Early intervention for at-risk toddlers.


(obsolete) The act of going, or state of being, before.


An act that alters the course of a disease, injury, or condition by initiating a treatment or performing a procedure or surgery.


(obsolete) Anticipation; especially, anticipation of needs, wishes, hazards and risks


A planned, often unannounced meeting with a person with a serious personal problem, such as addiction, in order to persuade the person to seek treatment.


Precaution; forethought.


The action of intervening; interfering in some course of events.


The act of going, or state of being, before.
The greater the distance, the greater the prevention.


A legal motion through which a person or entity who has not been named as a party to a case seeks to have the court order that they be made a party.


Anticipation; esp., anticipation of needs or wishes; hence, precaution; forethought.


An orchestrated attempt to convince somebody with an addiction or other psychological problem to seek professional help and/or change their behavior.


The act of preventing or hindering; obstruction of action, access, or approach; thwarting.
Casca, be sudden, for we fear prevention.


(medicine) An action taken or procedure performed; an operation.


Prejudice; prepossession.


The act of intervening; interposition.
Sound is shut out by the intervention of that lax membrane.


The act of preventing;
There was no bar against leaving
Money was allocated to study the cause and prevention of influenza


Any interference that may affect the interests of others; especially, of one or more states with the affairs of another; - the intervention of one state in the affairs of another is typically unwelcome by the state being intervened in, but some cases of mediation between states may be called intervention. Opposed to nonintervention.
Let us decide our quarrels at home, without the intervention, of any foreign power.


Measures taken to avoid future problems.
The city's waste management prevention plan was praised.


The act by which a third person, to protect his own interest, interposes and becomes a party to a suit pending between other parties.


The act of intervening (as to mediate a dispute)


A policy of intervening in the affairs of other countries


(law) a proceeding that permits a person to enter into a lawsuit already in progress; admission of person not an original party to the suit so that person can protect some right or interest that is allegedly affected by the proceedings;
The purpose of intervention is to prevent unnecessary duplication of lawsuits


Is intervention always immediate?

Not necessarily; the timing of intervention varies based on the severity and nature of the issue.

When is intervention deemed necessary?

Intervention is considered when a problem exists and requires direct action to rectify it.

What's primary prevention?

Primary prevention aims to prevent diseases or injuries before they ever occur.

Are prevention strategies always effective?

No, prevention strategies aim to reduce risk, but they can't guarantee complete avoidance.

Can prevention and intervention overlap?

Yes, some strategies can serve both as preventive measures and interventions.

What's a therapeutic intervention?

It's a specific treatment plan designed to alleviate or mitigate a particular health or behavioral issue.

Are there side effects to preventive measures?

Sometimes. For instance, preventive medications might have side effects.

Can prevention save costs in the long run?

Yes, preventing problems can often be more cost-effective than addressing them once they occur.

Are prevention measures always universal?

No, some are specific to certain populations, risks, or environments.

What's a community intervention?

Actions or programs implemented at a community level to address specific issues or challenges.

Can prevention lead to complacency?

It's possible. Over-reliance on prevention might make individuals less vigilant about potential risks.

Who decides the need for intervention?

It varies – professionals, family members, or individuals themselves might recognize the need.

What are examples of crisis intervention?

Immediate counseling after traumatic events or suicide hotline calls are crisis interventions.

How do prevention strategies get developed?

They're often based on research, past experiences, and an understanding of potential risks.

Can an intervention be too late?

Sometimes, early intervention is crucial, but it's often better late than never.

Do interventions require consent?

Generally, yes, especially in healthcare or therapeutic contexts. Some emergency situations might be exceptions.

Who can carry out interventions?

Depending on the context, professionals, peers, family, or community members might intervene.

How is the success of prevention measured?

By monitoring and comparing incidents or outcomes before and after preventive measures are in place.

What's secondary prevention?

It aims to reduce the impact of a disease or injury that has already occurred.

Are interventions always successful?

Not always. Their success depends on the nature of the problem, the method used, and individual circumstances.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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