Overdiagnosis is a ‘modern epidemic' which happens when people are diagnosed with diseases or conditions that won't actually harm them.
It presents a serious problem to our health system - and is the subject of an upcoming lecture by The University of Western Australia's Winthrop Professor Carmen Lawrence.
Professor Lawrence's talk, presented through UWA Extension, will examine the increasing tendency in society today to categorise normal physiological and psychological characteristics as pathological.
Professor Lawrence will argue that unnecessary labelling results in poor treatment decisions, overuse of medication, stigmatisation and the diversion of resources from prevention and treatment of real disease.
She will discuss the belief that we are in the midst of a perfect storm - a population that is increasingly anxious about health, doctors who don't want to miss a diagnosis because of fear of litigation, a pharmaceutical industry that profits from widening the definitions of disease and a health system that rewards over-testing and fails to acknowledge the harms that can result from it.
After training as a research psychologist at UWA and lecturing in a number of Australian universities, Professor Lawrence entered politics in 1986, serving at both State and Federal levels for 21 years. She was at various times WA Minister for Education and Aboriginal affairs and was the first woman Premier and Treasurer of a State government. She shifted to Federal politics in 1994 when she was elected as the Member for Fremantle and was appointed Minister for Health and Human Services and Minister assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women.
She retired from politics in 2007 and is now a Professorial Fellow at UWA.
WHAT: Lecture: ‘Overdiagnosis and disease mongering: a modern epidemic'.
WHERE: UWA Claremont.
WHEN: 6.30pm, Wednesday 28 August.