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Population screening and public health 

Population screening and public health
Population screening and public health

Allison Streetly

and Walter W. Holland

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date: 26 January 2022

Screening is concerned with actively identifying disease or pre- disease conditions in individuals who presume themselves to be healthy but may benefit from early treatment. Population screening should be distinguished from the testing of individuals to facilitate case finding in clinical settings. The chapter begins by outlining the historical development of screening as a health intervention. It then discusses the properties of screening tests and the criteria that must be fulfilled before a screening programme is introduced. The initiation of a screening programme raises a number of ethical questions that must be addressed at the level of the health system and the screening programme, as well as at the level of the individual subject who may be offered a screening test. The meaning and limitations of informed choice are discussed. The practical problems that must be negotiated when organizing the delivery of a screening programme are outlined. Processes of quality assurance are described. The final section of the chapter summarizes recommendations for screening at different stages of life.

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