Screening Tests and Healthy Survivors

I'm reading a popular new book that lambasts screening tests and the medical community that recommends them. Meanwhile, I just read an article put out by the University of Missouri, reporting "A team led by University of Missouri psychological science researchers has determined that patients may want cancer screenings even if the potential harms outweigh the benefits."

What is going on? Why would anyone abandon effective cancer screening tests? Why would anyone want screening tests they've been told are harmful and not helpful?  

This may be a question of health literacy, which the US Dept HHS defines as "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions."

Medical decision-making at its best begins with a dispassionate assessment of the risks and benefits for you of a test, followed by value judgments of which risks are worth which benefits.

In real life, deciding on which tests to pursue taps into your beliefs and emotions, which can lead you astray. Healthy Survivors benefit from a basic understanding of...

  • disease, treatment and statistics
  • how to communicate about health issues
  • common factors that impact wise decision making, such as fears, social pressures, financial strain

Healthy Survivors get good care by using screening tests wisely.  

Here's the link to the article from MU.

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