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Overtreatment and Overreliance on Diagnostic Testing

  • By: Kim Walsh-Childers & Jennifer Braddock
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

News coverage may be one contributor to widespread overuse of medical testing and treatment, a problem estimated to account for up to 30 percent of all health care spending in the United States. Overtreatment—the use of tests, products, surgeries and other medical interventions that provide no benefit or where harms outweigh the benefits—raises health care costs and leads to poorer health outcomes. Although little research has directly addressed the effects of news coverage on overtreatment, studies of related topics suggest that news may encourage overtreatment by overemphasizing the benefits and underreporting the harms and costs of testing and treatment. Such problematic coverage is important given that news media serve as a significant source of health information for the public, influencing both attitudes and behavior regarding ...

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