Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The ethics of screening: is 'screeningitis' an incurable disease?
  1. D Shickle,
  2. R Chadwick
  1. Centre for Applied Public Health Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff.


    Screening programmes are becoming increasingly popular since prevention is considered 'better than cure'. While earlier diagnosis may result in more effective treatment for some, there will be consequent harm for others due to anxiety, stigma, side-effects etc. A screening test cannot guarantee the detection of all 'abnormal' cases, therefore there will be false reassurance for some. A proper consideration of the potential benefit and harm arising from screening may lead to the conclusion that the programme should not be offered. A modified utilitarian approach may be used for allocation of scarce resources in health care. Ethics has an important role in this evaluation.

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.