Mary Walker - Overdiagnosis and the definition of disease

In recent years, physicians and health scientists have become increasingly concerned about overdiagnosis, the problem of diagnosing too many people as having a disease, be it breast or thyroid cancer, diabetes or pulmonary embolism. When considering who or what is at fault, the list of suspects often includes overly expansive screening programs, increasingly sensitive diagnostic tests, and unnecessary test-ordering. But should the list of the accused also include our definition of disease? And can philosophers studying disease concepts help to clear up our definition of disease – and even the problem of overdiagnosis itself?

Today’s consultation is with philosopher Mary Walker, Research Fellow in Philosophy at Monash University.

Jonathan Fuller