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The Prevention of Lifestyle-Related Chronic Diseases: an Economic Framework

Listed author(s):
  • Franco Sassi


  • Jeremy Hurst


Registered author(s):

    This paper provides an economic perspective on the prevention of chronic diseases, focusing in particular on diseases linked to lifestyle choices. The proposed economic framework is centred on the hypothesis that the prevention of chronic diseases may provide the means for increasing social welfare, enhancing health equity, or both, relative to a situation in which chronic diseases are simply treated once they emerge. Testing this hypothesis requires the completion of several conceptual and methodological steps. The pathways through which chronic diseases are generated must be identified as well as the levers that could modify those pathways. Justification for action must be sought by examining whether the determinants of chronic diseases are simply the outcome of efficient market dynamics, or the effect of market and rationality failures preventing individuals from achieving the best possible outcomes. Where failures exist, possible preventive interventions must be conceived, whose expected impact on individual choices should be commensurate to the extent of those failures and to the severity of the outcomes arising from them. A positive impact of such interventions on social welfare and health equity should be assessed empirically through a comprehensive evaluation before interventions are implemented. Le présent rapport appréhende dans une optique économique la question de la prévention des maladies chroniques, en mettant tout particulièrement l'accent sur celles qui sont associées au mode de vie. Le cadre économique proposé repose essentiellement sur l'hypothèse selon laquelle la prévention des maladies chroniques peut permettre d'améliorer le bien-être social ou d'accroître l'équité face à la santé, ou les deux, par rapport à une situation dans laquelle ces maladies sont simplement traitées lorsqu'elles se déclarent. Pour vérifier cette hypothèse, il faut accomplir plusieurs tâches d'ordre conceptuel et méthodologique. Il est nécessaire de cerner le processus qui aboutit à l'apparition des maladies chroniques, ainsi que les moyens susceptibles d'infléchir ce processus. Pour définir l'action à mener dans ce sens, il faut examiner si les déterminants de ces maladies sont simplement issus de la dynamique d'un marché efficient ou s'ils découlent d'une défaillance du marché et d'un défaut de rationalité qui empêchent les individus d'obtenir les meilleurs résultats possibles. Lorsqu'il y a défaillance, il est nécessaire de définir les mesures préventives qui pourraient être prises, mesures dont l'impact attendu sur les choix individuels doit être proportionnel à l'ampleur de cette défaillance et à la gravité des effets qu'elle produit. Il conviendrait d'examiner si ces mesures auront une incidence positive sur le bien-être social et l'équité face à la santé en effectuant une évaluation approfondie à l'aide de données concrètes avant leur application.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Health Working Papers with number 32.

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    Date of creation: 25 Mar 2008
    Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaad:32-en
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