A population approach to precision medicine

Am J Prev Med. 2012 Jun;42(6):639-45. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.02.012.


The term P4 medicine is used to denote an evolving field of medicine that uses systems biology approaches and information technologies to enhance wellness rather than just treat disease. Its four components include predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory medicine. In the current paper, it is argued that in order to fulfill the promise of P4 medicine, a "fifth P" must be integrated-the population perspective-into each of the other four components. A population perspective integrates predictive medicine into the ecologic model of health; applies principles of population screening to preventive medicine; uses evidence-based practice to personalize medicine; and grounds participatory medicine on the three core functions of public health: assessment, policy development, and assurance. Population sciences-including epidemiology; behavioral, social, and communication sciences; and health economics, implementation science, and outcomes research-are needed to show the value of P4 medicine. Balanced strategies that implement both population- and individual-level interventions can best maximize health benefits, minimize harm, and avoid unnecessary healthcare costs.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Protocols
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Primary Prevention
  • Public Health Practice
  • Public Health*
  • United States