Health screenings? Check-ups? Investigating mild symptoms? Seems harmless and sometimes even a good idea, but what happens when small aberrations from the norm lead to unwanted and unneeded treatment? Here in Indiana and elsewhere, there have been reports of “widespread over diagnosis” of various types of cancer based on health screenings. My colleague, Debra Chew, writing for the August 29, 2016 edition of The Chattanooga.com, pursues this question, siting current research on over diagnosis. She gives readers some insight on a calming spiritual solution. Here’s Deb:
Everyone likes to get a real bargain — getting more than what they paid for. However, when it comes to diagnosing disease, no one wants to be over-diagnosed. In other words, diagnosed as having a condition or disease to a greater degree than is actually present.
This was the topic at conferences in Dartmouth in 2013, the University of Oxford in 2014, and the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2015. The 2016 International Preventing Overdiagnosis conference will be held in Barcelona in September. Health professionals will meet to showcase some of the best global research on preventing overdiagnosis currently taking place. So in today’s technologically-advanced world, why is this research important for our health? Why is overdiagnosing even a problem?
One common way overdiagnosis can happen is when healthy people attend screening programs or receive tests during check-ups or simply have mild symptoms and are diagnosed. They are subsequently treated for the mild form of a disease which would never in fact have harmed them.
H. Gilbert Welch, a professor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, studied this issue and authored Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health. In a New York Times article, Welch said this about screening: “This process doesn’t promote health; it promotes disease. People suffer from more anxiety about their health, from drug side effects, from complications of surgery. A few die. And remember: these people felt fine when they entered the healthcare system.”
More and more, people are discovering that their thinking affects their health…..