Screening is the process of systematically searching for preclinical disease and classifying people as likely or unlikely to have the disease. It involves using a reasonably rapid test procedure, with more definitive testing still required to make a diagnosis. The goal of screening is to reduce eventual morbidity or mortality by facilitating early treatment. Mass or population screening targets a whole population or population group. Clinical use of screening tests for diseases unrelated to patient symptoms is referred to as opportunistic screening. This entry discusses the general principles related to mass screening and study designs for the evaluation of screening programs.

Screening is primarily a phenomenon of the 20th century (and beyond). Early screening tended to deal with communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis and syphilis, and ...

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