Prevention and Early Intervention Unit

Prevention and early interventions have a strong common-sense appeal.  Most people are familiar with the idiom “prevention is better than cure”.  However, effective prevention and early interventions rely on both knowing what to do (scientific understanding of cause and effect) and being in a position to act (the capacity of the government to intervene in social life).

The focus of the Prevention & Early Intervention Unit’s (PEIU) work is on prevention and early interventions that can improve the life outcomes of children as well as the quality of life of older people dealing within long term conditions such as chronic illness (this is seen as being within the context of population health).

The purpose of this webpage is to provide access to the work of the PEIU which was established under A Programme for a Partnership Government by the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform.


Beyond “prevention is better than cure”: understanding prevention and early intervention as an approach to public policy

Experience suggests that enthusiasm for acting early to prevent a policy challenge from emerging or worsening often wanes when confronted with the reality of implementing effective policies.  This paper draws on insights from the policy making literature to identify key themes that support the development of prevention and early intervention as an approach to public policy.  Using qualitative data from two dialogue sessions, this paper shows how these themes reflect policy experts’ and practitioners’ conceptualisations of such an approach.  Finally, this paper identifies opportunities for policy-makers to improve the design and implementation of such policies through greater understanding of the perspectives and roles of stakeholders and the use of public resources.

 The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is freely available in Policy Design & Practice (2020) and can be found here