Deaths preventable in the U.S. by improvements in use of clinical preventive services

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Jun;38(6):600-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.02.016.


Background: Healthcare reform plans refer to improved quality, but there is little quantification of potential health benefits of quality care.

Purpose: This paper aims to estimate the health benefits by greater use of clinical preventive services.

Methods: Two mathematical models were developed to estimate the number of deaths potentially prevented per year by increasing use of nine clinical preventive services. One model estimated preventable deaths from all causes, and the other estimated preventable deaths from specific categories of causes. Models were based on estimates of the prevalence of risk factors for which interventions are recommended, the effect of those risk factors on mortality, the effect of the interventions on mortality in those at risk, and current and achievable rates of utilization of the interventions.

Results: Both models predicted substantial numbers of deaths prevented by greater use of the preventive services, with the greatest increases from services that prevent cardiovascular disease. For example, the all-cause model predicted that every 10% increase in hypertension treatment would lead to an additional 14,000 deaths prevented and every 10% increase in treatment of elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or aspirin prophylaxis would lead to 8000 deaths prevented in those aged <80 years, per year. Overall, the models suggest that optimal use of all of these interventions could prevent 50,000-100,000 deaths per year in those aged <80 years and 25,000-40,000 deaths per year in those aged <65 years.

Conclusions: Substantial improvements in population health are achievable through greater use of a small number of preventive services. Healthcare systems should maximize use of these services.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cause of Death
  • Health Care Reform
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Mortality / trends
  • Preventive Health Services / methods*
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology