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Clinical Preventive Services

Original LHI Infographics

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Clinical preventive services, such as routine disease screening and scheduled immunizations, are key to reducing death and disability and improving the Nation’s health. These services both prevent and detect illnesses and diseases—from flu to cancer—in their earlier, more treatable stages, significantly reducing the risk of illness, disability, early death, and medical care costs. Yet, despite the fact that these services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and many private insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, millions of children, adolescents, and adults go without clinical preventive services that could protect them from developing a number of serious diseases or help them treat certain health conditions before they worsen.

For example, regular colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50 is the most effective way to reduce a person’s risk of getting the disease.1 Despite the potentially life-saving effectiveness of this screening test, only 25% of adults age 50 to 64 in the United States, and fewer than 40% of adults age 65 and older in the United States are up to date on colorectal cancer screening and other recommended clinical preventive services.2 Increasing the number of people who take advantage of and have access to clinical preventive services continues to be a major public health challenge.

Health Impact of Clinical Preventive Services 

Clinical preventive services offer tremendous opportunity to save years of life and to help people live better during those years. Moreover, science-based prevention can save money—and provide high-quality care—by helping people avoid unnecessary tests and procedures. Evidence-based preventive services are effective in reducing death, disability, and disease, including:

  • Certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer
  • Chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes
  • Infectious diseases, such as influenza, chicken pox, and pneumonia
  • Mental health conditions and substance abuse
  • Vision disorders

For example:

  • Clinical preventive services to prevent cardiovascular disease alone could save tens of thousands of lives each year.3
  • On average, 42,000 deaths per year are prevented among children who receive recommended childhood vaccines.3
  • Blood pressure screening and control is one of the most effective ways to prevent heart disease and stroke. Among people with diabetes, blood pressure control reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 33 to 50%.3
  • Water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 25% in children and adults.3


1Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently Asked Questions About Colorectal Cancer. Atlanta, GA: 2011. Available from

2Healthy Aging Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Clinical Preventive Services. Atlanta, GA: 2011. Available from

3National Prevention Council, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Prevention Strategy. Washington, DC: 2011. Available from [PDF - 4.66MB]

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