This presentation will offer an overview of the complex and counter-intuitive health challenge of overdiagnosis, which has been described as a ‘modern epidemic’ causing harm and challenging the sustainability of health systems. It will explore both the problem and potential solutions to it. The presentation will draw on national and international evidence and analysis, and demonstrate how Australia is at the forefront of national attempts to understand and address overdiagnosis.
In a nutshell, overdiagnosis happens when someone receives a diagnosis that does them more harm than good. It happens for example when a healthy person is diagnosed with a disease that will not actually ever cause them harm. The presentation will explain the nature of this vexing problem, and evidence which has attempted to estimate its extent across several conditions, including for example, thyroid, breast and prostate cancers.
The presentation will also explore what might be driving this problem, such as changes in diagnostic technology – often used in screening programs – which can identify ever-smaller abnormalities, many of which will highly likely never to go on to cause harm. Drawing on recent work published in the British Medical Journal, BMJ, the presentation will also explore a wide range of potential solutions.
A former award-winning journalist and author, Dr Moynihan is recognised internationally for his academic work on overdiagnosis, and the presentation will give a clear and compelling introduction to this problem and how we might collectively address it.