How should we communicate about overdiagnosis? When we talk about overdiagnosis, what do people hear?

Stacy M. Carter, Jan Donovan, Melissa Fox, Kirsten McCaffery, Ray Moynihan, Tomas Rozbroj

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


Overdiagnosis researchers and advocates care about the challenging and counterintuitive problem of overdiagnosis, and many are keen to inform others about the problem. Literature review suggests informing people is one of many possible strategies to begin to address overdiagnosis, and the initial meeting of the Consumer and Community Reference Group to the Wiser Healthcare research collaboration on overdiagnosis identified producing and disseminating information effectively as a priority action. But when we talk about overdiagnosis in public, there may be a disjunct between what we think we are communicating, and how that is received. The purpose of the session is to provide a constructive opportunity for those of us inside the ‘overdiagnosis world’ to have our thinking shaken up a little by critical friends from other perspectives. In this practical workshop, we will begin by reviewing what we know about public understandings of overdiagnosis. We will then present videos and other media which aim to communicate about overdiagnosis. Our panel includes consumer representatives, and experts in risk communication, health psychology and ethics. After the presentation of each example of communication, the panel will discuss how they ‘read’ it, and what they think is likely to be understood or misunderstood. The aim is to constructively suggest how communication could be strengthened or made clearer, and to point out some features that might be counterintuitive or nonobvious to people who think about overdiagnosis all the time. We will end the workshop with some reflections on the importance of bringing a range of perspectives into communicating about overdiagnosis, and some practical examples of how this can be done, drawing on the experience of Wiser Healthcare. By the end of the workshop, we hope to have opened up new ways of thinking about how to communicate about overdiagnosis and new ways to make the overdiagnosis message clearer, especially to those who have not thought about it before.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A6-A6
Number of pages1
JournalBMJ Evidence-Based Medicine
Issue numberSuppl 2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2019
EventPreventing Overdiagnosis 2019 - The University of Sydney, Abercrombie Building, Camperdown, Australia
Duration: 5 Dec 20197 Dec 2019

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