January 22, 2011


Health Blog Q&A: H. Gilbert Welch, Author of ‘Overdiagnosed’ (Katherine Hobson, 1/22/11, WSJ)

What is overdiagnosis?

Overdiagnosis occurs when physicians make a diagnosis in an individual who would never go on to develop symptoms or die from the condition. It happens when we try to make diagnoses too early, in people who don’t have symptoms. I’m not saying we should never do that, but members of the general public have gotten the message that early diagnosis is always in your best interest, that it’s always good to look harder and find more. But the reality now is that we can find abnormalities in just about everyone and that can start a whole train of harmful events. So we all need to adopt a more balanced approach. Overdiagnosis doesn’t necessarily lead to overtreatment, but it often does.

How do you define health?

Health is much more than not being able to find something wrong. It’s how people feel, it’s a state of mind. And it’s hard to feel good when things are constantly being found wrong with you. But we are moving towards a [notion of] health that means the absence of any abnormalities. That’s not a good definition.

...then reaxct because you aren't one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 22, 2011 5:41 PM
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