The BMJ's Too Much Medicine campaign aims to highlight the threat to human health posed by overdiagnosis and the waste of resources on unnecessary care.
There is growing evidence that many people are overdiagnosed and overtreated for a wide range of conditions, such as prostate and thyroid cancers, asthma, and chronic kidney disease.
Through the campaign, the journal plans to work with others to increase awareness of the benefits and harms of treatments and technologies and develop ways to wind back medical excess, safely and fairly. This editorial by BMJ editor in chief Fiona Godlee and overdiagnosis researcher Ray Moynihan, senior research fellow at Bond University, Australia, explains more about the campaign:
Dr Godlee said: "Like the evidence based medicine and quality and safety movements of previous decades, combatting excess is a contemporary manifestation of a much older desire to avoid doing harm when we try to help or heal.
"Making such efforts even more necessary are the growing concerns about escalating healthcare spending and the threats to health from climate change. Winding back unnecessary tests and treatments, unhelpful labels and diagnoses won’t only benefit those who directly avoid harm, it can also help us create a more sustainable future."
The BMJ is a partner in the forthcoming international scientific conference, Preventing Overdiagnosis, to be held in September 2013 in Hanover, New Hampshire. The conference seeks to bring together the research and the researchers, advance the science of the problem and its solutions, and develop ways to better communicate about this modern epidemic. Registration is now open at www.preventingoverdiagnosis.net
As part of the campaign the BMJ will produce a theme issue in early 2014, featuring the best papers from the conference.
The BMJ and the Consumer Reports journal will launch a series on how the expansion of disease definitions is contributing to overdiagnosis, featuring common conditions including pulmonary embolism, chronic kidney disease and (pre)dementia. Underscoring the need for caution, each article will feature a limitations section, highlighting the caveats accompanying this evolving and complex science.
Share your thoughts on overdiagnosis by responding to this editorial