An important paper by Kirsten McCaffery and colleagues looks at the problem of overdiagnosis in healthcare and discusses what is needed: ‘Communication that empowers the public, patients, clinicians, and policy makers to think differently about overdiagnosis will help support a more sustainable healthcare future for all,’ they argue.
Overdiagnosis incurs a cost to individuals (unnecessary intervention), and to society (opportunity costs). Communication needs to be open and effective to avoid physical or psychological harm, as well as to avoid wasted resources (unnecessary tests and treatments) which are then unavailable to people in greater need.
The paper discusses potential challenges to effective communication, sets out the key messages to be communicated and examines strategies to mitigate overdiagnosis. It ends by suggesting specific studies and research as the way forward.
Walking the tightrope: communicating overdiagnosis in modern healthcare. Kirsten J McCaffery, Jesse Jansen, Laura D Scherer, Hazel Thornton, Jolyn Hersch, Stacy M Carter et al.