Task Force on Prevention

The NCIOM Task Force on Prevention studied the leading causes of death and disability in the state and developed evidence-based recommendations to address the preventable risk-factors underlying these leading causes. The Task Force met from April 2008 to August 2009 to develop the North Carolina Prevention Action Plan, and the work of the Task Force culminated in a one-day summit focused on the release of the Plan. This Task Force was a collaborative effort between the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health. Support for this project was provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund, and The Duke Endowment.

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Task Force Leadership

All Members


Jeffrey P. Engel, MD

State Health Director, Division of Public Health

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

William L. Roper, MD, MPH

CEO, University of North Carolina Health System

Dean, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Robert W. Seligson, MBA

Executive Vice President and CEO

North Carolina Medical Society


North Carolina spends a greater percentage of its gross state product on health care than is spent nationally (13.8% versus 13.3% nationally), but fares poorly in overall health rankings. North Carolina is close to the bottom in state rankings (40th out of 50 states and DC) in terms of life expectancy at birth. North Carolina is also 38th in years of life lost, 36th in the number of deaths per 100,000, and 36th in terms of overall health rankings. The burden of chronic disease and other preventable ills in our state is skyrocketing. As our health worsens, costs to both the individual and the system as a whole are rising.

The leading causes of mortality and morbidity for adults are chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease. Injuries are one of the leading causes of death for younger age groups. The best way to treat these diseases and injuries is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. However, as in many places, health care spending in North Carolina is drastically skewed toward paying for therapeutic procedures to manage or treat acute or chronic health problems. As a state, we have not invested heavily in the population-based interventions that can help keep healthy people healthy and can help keep those with poor health conditions from becoming unhealthier.

The overarching goal of the Task Force was to develop a North Carolina Prevention Action Plan to help guide the Division of Public Health and community organizations in prioritizing their prevention efforts. The Plan can also be used to help guide foundation grant making and new legislative funding.

To accomplish this goal, the Task Force
1) Comprehensively examined the preventable, underlying causes of the 10 leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the state.
2) Examined health disparities.
3) Prioritized prevention strategies to improve population health using evidence-based and best and promising practices.
4) Developed a comprehensive approach to prevention that includes strategies to address the four factors impacting health outcomes.