Current and future trends in chronic disease prevention research: Thematic analysis of grey and scientific literature

Date: July 2020

The authors

  • Leah Marks
  • Elly Howse
  • Professor Lucie Rychetnik
  • Professor Andrew Wilson


This report was prepared by the Prevention Centre and is viewed as a conversation starter; to steward internal discussions about the next phase of our program of research, and to inform the national discourse about prevention research in Australia.

Key findings

The literature review identified twenty-six topics across the grey and scientific literature that we suggest encompass the current trends in prevention research. We grouped eighteen of these topics into five major themesfood production and consumptionplace and spacesenvironment and healthexpanded determinants of health; and personalised prevention, with the remaining eight topics listed separately. The additional topics not grouped into these major themes included systems thinking, mental health, multi-sectoral approaches to prevention, a life-course approach to prevention, tobacco and alcohol, low and middle-income countries, evidence gaps, and implementation and evaluation challenges.

The report concludes with a discussion of the opportunities arising from the review. In particular we emphasise the need to continue to expanding the scope of prevention to incorporate more holistic systems-based consideration of health and prevention that encapsulates both human and planetary health, and sustainable development. We highlight the need for better understanding of how to implement and support the system-wide changes required to support chronic disease prevention, and to address the political dimensions of promoting health and preventing disease. And finally, the report reinforces the ongoing and important need to address Australia’s persistent inequalities in health.  

Podcast: The past, present and future of chronic disease prevention research

In this Prevention Works episode, Prevention Centre Co-Director Professor Andrew Wilson chats with host Gretchen Miller about his years of experience in public health, the current health crisis, and what the future holds for the prevention of chronic disease in Australia. Listen here