The Benefits and Dis-benefits of Health Screening. The Contribution of Psychology in Health Screening.
Health screening, according to Durojaiye, (2009), is a systematic application of a test or inquiry to identify individuals at risk of a specific health problem. This enables further investigation or direct preventive action, among individuals who have not sought medical attention on account of their symptoms of that problem. Screening is different to diagnosis as it is performed on people without symptoms; it does not provide a diagnosis but rather identifies individuals at increased risk for follow-up diagnostic testing. Therefore, the main aim of screening program is to detect disease or risk factors among the general population, in order to carry out preventive or therapeutic intervention because the highest benefit one can derive from a specific treatment is when the disease is less advanced (Trevena, 2009).
There are a number of benefits expected from health screening and much research has shown the benefits that health screening provides to the health sector. However, in recent years research is emerging with the agenda of opportunity cost of health screening. As result many scholars have indicated that there is a significant number of disadvantages associated with heath screening. This essay explores the benefits and dis-benefits of health screening, and highlights the contribution of psychology to health screening.
Wardle & Pope (1992) claimed that evaluating the benefits of health screening can be very difficult. This is primarily due to the fact that premature death from chronic diseases, fore example breast and cervical cancer is comparatively rare and consequently very large sample sizes are necessary to detect benefits. Additionally, endpoints such as mortality cannot be evaluated in short-term studies, and in the long-term, both the incidence and the treatments of diseases can change.
Despite these difficulties, researchers have reported the benefits of health screening. The most recognised benefit according to Durojaiye (2009) is that it is effective in reducing morbidity and mortality from disease by detecting it before symptoms occur. A report in 2006 by the Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer Screening showed that screening saves 1,400 lives a year in England. In Australia, the age-standardized breast cancer mortality rate in women of all ages declined significantly from 28 per 100,000 women in 1996 to 24 per 100,000 in 2005. Mortality from breast cancer among women aged 50-69 was reported to have declined from 62 deaths per 100,000 in 1996 to 52 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2008) . The screening of pregnant women to identify and intervene early with risks to their health and that of their babies are associated with improved health status among high-risk populations (Durojaiye, 2009). The idea of screening therefore is to prevent,...