Intended for healthcare professionals


Too Much Medicine: from evidence to action

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 04 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7141
  1. Ray Moynihan, senior research fellow1,
  2. Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence based medicine2,
  3. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief3
  1. 1Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD 4229, Australia
  2. 2Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford UK
  3. 3BMJ, London, UK
  1. RayMoynihan{at}

Abstract submission open for 2014 Preventing Overdiagnosis conference

Well known for their debates about independence, the people of Quebec may soon attract global attention for their campaign to wind back the harms of too much medicine. Earlier this year, the Quebec Medical Association issued a position paper on overdiagnosis and overtreatment and created a working party to identify causes and develop solutions. In September, a delegation of the most influential people within Quebec’s health system—representatives of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and hospital managers—attended the inaugural Preventing Overdiagnosis conference in Dartmouth, New Hampshire, United States.1 Now they’re busy building a knowledge base within the Canadian province around strategies to counter overdiagnosis and overtreatment.2 In Quebec, evidence is informing action.

At the same time, in the United States a group convened by the National Cancer Institute found that “overdiagnosis is common and occurs more frequently with cancer screening,” and it recommended that professionals and the public be better informed.3 This recommendation is reinforced by recent surveys suggesting that doctors inform fewer than one in 10 people about the risks of overdiagnosis and overtreatment with cancer screening.4 And, as the BMJ’s Too Much Medicine series is highlighting, the risk of overdiagnosis extends across a range of conditions, including pulmonary embolism,5 chronic kidney disease,6 and …

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