Letters Invited Commentary False-positive results, a predictable consequence of the Media Representation of the Benefits and Harms indiscriminate ordering of tests, cause real harm. It is often of Early Testing: Implications for Public Health difficult for patients and physicians to ignore an abnormal re- When it comes to health, people are hungry for good news. It sult, so the more likely path is more testing, which costs more does not serve them well, however, to provide it exclusively. money, causes more psychological stress, and may even cause Unfortunately, in some areas, the media seems to focus far physical harm via related, unnecessary procedures. more on the benefits than the harms. Owing in part to the biased news they hear about screen- This is especially true with screening tests. We have be- ing tests, patients often overestimate how much risk reduc- come conditioned to the notion that earlier detection is al- tion is associated with them and generally opt to receive them. ways better, no matter what. In this issue of JAMA Internal This high-benefit, low-harm perception is often the opposite 1 1 Medicine, O’Keeffe and colleagues examined media stories of reality. O’Keeffe and colleagues’ study provides evidence on the
JAMA Internal Medicine – American Medical Association
Published: Jun 5, 2021
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