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Overdiagnosis and overtreatment: A sociological perspective on tackling a contemporary healthcare issue

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journal contribution
posted on 19.01.2021, 10:05 by Natalie Armstrong
Overdiagnosis and overtreatment are increasingly discussed as a significant problem in contemporary healthcare but are yet to receive any significant sociological attention, over and above that which is arguably transferable from the medicalisation literature. Overdiagnosis and overtreatment are often constructed as problems best addressed by educating patients and clinicians, and improving the relationships between them. The emergence of tools seeking to supportdecision making and to facilitate patients’ asking questions about whether interventions are really necessary supports this conceptualisation.This paper questions whether significant traction on overdiagnosis and overtreatment is possible through these means alone, arguing that even when professionals and patients may wish to do less rather than more, the system within which care is delivered and received can make this challenging to achieve. Drawing on Scott’s (2018) ‘sociology of nothing’, the paper demonstrates that a sociological perspective on overdiagnosis and overtreatment recasts them as issues that must be understood as a consequence of the organisational, financial and cultural attributes of the system, not just individual interactions, and advances a research agenda for the area.

Funding

Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellowship

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration East Midlands

History

Citation

Sociology of Health and Illness: a journal of medical sociology, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13186

Author affiliation

Social Science Applied to Health Improvement Research (SAPPHIRE) Group, Department of Health Sciences

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Sociology of Health and Illness: a journal of medical sociology

Publisher

Wiley

issn

0141-9889

Acceptance date

11/08/2020

Copyright date

2020

Available date

23/09/2020

Language

en

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