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Population screening and public health 

Population screening and public health
Chapter:
Population screening and public health
Author(s):

Allison Streetly

and Lars Elhers

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199661756.003.0239
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date: 24 September 2019

Screening is concerned with actively identifying disease or pre-disease states in individuals who presume they are healthy but may, through screening, 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 development of screening as a concept and a health intervention. It then discusses the properties of screening tests and the criteria that must be fulfilled before a screening programme is introduced and the evaluation and governance of screening programmes. The initiation of a screening programme raises a number of ethical questions that must be addressed. The practical problems that must be negotiated when organizing the delivery of a screening programme are outlined and processes of quality assurance and the meaning and limitations of informed choice are described. The final section summarizes different challenges facing screening programmes in different fields and makes some general recommendations for consideration for screening at different stages of life.

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