2011 National Prevention Network Conference Discusses Developments in Health Care

On September 21, the Centers for Disease Control released estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January-March 2011. According to the survey, the number of adults interviewed aged 19-25 without health insurance decreased by 900,000, from 10 million to 9.1 million, in the first three months of 2011. The report places particular emphasis on this age group because of the young adults provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows individuals to retain coverage on their parents’ health insurance policies until their 26th birthdays and because the rate of health insurance ownership declined in all other age groups over the period examined.

The potential implications of the Affordable Care Act on public health, particularly substance abuse prevention and medical education, were high on the agenda during the 24th Annual National Prevention Network Prevention Research Conference held September 21-23 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sponsored by University of Oklahoma Outreach’s Southwest Prevention Center, the Prevention Research Conference attracts a large and diverse audience of alcohol and drug abuse researchers, counselors, educators and policy-makers from around the nation consider the latest and ongoing research developments in substance abuse prevention and other areas of health care. The event was co-sponsored by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, an organization that provides consulting services and support to local, state and national efforts to combat substance abuse.

Lynne Beard, an event specialist responsible for the Southwest Prevention Center’s logistical and coordination services for the conference, explained the importance of the conference’s emphasis on preventive health care, rather than strictly treatment. “Our focus on prevention goes back to an old adage – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care,” Beard said. “Prevention is much less costly than treatment. That’s not to say that prevention is easy to get across. In many cases, a person exhibiting addictive behavior doesn’t acknowledge that there is a problem until they have already reached the treatment stage. Additionally, prevention is also part of treatment. In the recovery process, we want to prevent a relapse. That’s why informative prevention research is beneficial.”

With more than 850 participants pre-registered, the National Prevention Research Conference was the premiere destination for informative discussions of advanced techniques in prevention and the problems that confront professionals in public health. In addition to more than 47 workshops and exhibits, conference attendees heard from renowned health care professionals on a variety of topics affecting the field of modern public health and prevention.

Among the speakers, Dr. Dennis Embry presented “Sustainable Cost-Efficient Population-Level Prevention in Fiscal Crises and Health Care Reform,” a discussion on providing rapid results preventive health care in the midst of current fiscal crises in local and state governments. Additionally, Mallori DeSalle and Dr. Walt Keller addressed substance abuse prevention in higher education with “Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Addressing Collegiate Alcohol and Drug Issues,” about low-cost methods for prevention that have found success at campuses at leading universities.

The Southwest Prevention Center helps community and coalition efforts toward drug and alcohol abuse prevention through services that include training prevention specialists to work in communities, and facilitating meetings between federal and state government health officials like the National Prevention Conference, giving preventive health care workers and organizations guidance on how to best to use their funding and get the most out of their efforts.

 

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