One of the concepts that appears to be gaining considerable traction in policy making is the adoption of a life course approach.
As the diagram above (taken from this presentation on the Good Behaviour Game) shows this is another way of talking about what I’ve been calling the ‘sunscreen’ approach to prevention.
What this recognises is that determinants of health behaviours that may manifest in adult life can be set before a child is born, and that there are things that society can do to mitigate those risks. It goes on to argue that putting in place these earliest interventions isn’t sufficient, and that the ideal we should be aiming for is to address risks and bolster protective factors throughout our lives.
This fits really well with our own philosophy of prevention. We’ve never argued that single interventions on their own are sufficient, nor that those interventions should be limited to a single setting. Rather we’ve tried to make the case for a broad-based strategy that works where children and young people are, that is age appropriate, and that mixes population level interventions with programmes that help groups and individuals gain the skills and values that will protect them from the harms of drugs and alcohol.