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


  • Franco Sassi


  • Jeremy Hurst



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.

Suggested Citation

  • Franco Sassi & Jeremy Hurst, 2008. "The Prevention of Lifestyle-Related Chronic Diseases: an Economic Framework," OECD Health Working Papers 32, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaad:32-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Jérôme COUTURIER & Davide SOLA & Giovanni SCARSO BORIOLI & Cristina RAICIU, 2012. "How Can the Internet of Things Help to Overcome Current Healthcare Challenges," Communications & Strategies, IDATE, Com&Strat dept., vol. 1(87), pages 67-81, 3rd quart.
    2. repec:sgm:pzwzuw:v:1:i:2:y:2013:p:34-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Amarpreet Chawla & Chia-Wen Hsiao & Martha Romney & Ricardo Cohen & Francesco Rubino & Philip Schauer & Pierre Cremieux, 2015. "Gap Between Evidence and Patient Access: Policy Implications for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery in the Treatment of Obesity and its Complications," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 33(7), pages 629-641, July.
    4. Iga Rudawska, 2013. "Trendy epidemiologiczno-demograficzne jako wyzwanie dla europejskich systemow ochrony zdrowia. (Epidemiologic and demographic trends as a challenge for European health care systems.)," Problemy Zarzadzania, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 11(41), pages 34-52.
    5. Cristina Blanco Pérez & Xavier Ramos, 2010. "Polarization And Health," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(1), pages 171-185, March.
    6. Gyrd-Hansen, Dorte & Kjær, Trine, 2015. "Government interventions to aid choice: Help to self-help or paternalism?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(7), pages 874-881.

    More about this item


    analyse coût-efficacité; analyse coûts-avantages; choice; choix; cost-benefit analysis; cost-effectiveness analysis; défaillances de marché; déterminants de la santé; health determinants; health equity; maladies non transmissibles; market failure; non-communicable diseases; prevention; prévention; rationality; rationalité; équité face à la santé;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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