Screening: Evidence and Practice (2nd edition)

ISBN : 9780198805984

Angela E. Raffle; Anne Mackie; J. A. Muir Gray
368 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jun 2019
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Screening programmes involve the systematic offer of testing for populations or groups of apparently healthy people to identify individuals who may be at future risk of a particular medical condition or disease, with the aim of offering intervention to reduce their risk.

For many years, screening was practised without debate, and without evidence, but in the 1960s serious challenges were raised about many of the screening procedures then being practised. Benefits and harms of screening must be measured in high quality trials, and the benefits of screening must be weighed alongside the negative side-effects. Concerns were raised about potential and actual harm arising when people without a health problem received dangerous and unnecessary investigations and treatments as a result of routine screening tests. Controversy raged, and it took some 50 years to achieve widespread recognition that evidence-based and quality assured programme delivery was essential, coupled with provision of balanced informed to enable informed choice for potential participants. Commercially motivated provision of poor quality and non-evidence based screening tests is increasing and screening remains a highly contested topic that has relevance in all health systems including for the general public and media.

This book serves as a practical and comprehensive guide to all aspects of screening. Following the international success of the first edition, this second edition brings extensive updates and new case study material. The first section deals with concepts, methods, and evidence, charts the story of screening back to 1861, and covers all aspects of a screening programme and how to research the full consequences. The second section is a practical guide to sound policy-making and to high quality delivery of best value screening. The controversies, paradoxes, uncertainties, and ethical dilemmas of screening are explained, and each chapter is packed with examples, real-life case histories, helpful summary points, and self-test questions. Reference is made to the NHS, a leader in screening, but the primary focus is on universal principles, making the book highly relevant across the globe.


1 How screening started
2 What screening is, and is not
3 What screening does
4 Measuring what a screening programme does
5 Implementing screening programmes
6 Quality assuring screening programmes
7 Day-to-day management of screening progammes for public health practitioners and managers
8 Making policy on screening programmes

About the author: 

Dr Angela Raffle has practised as a Consultant in Public Health in Bristol since 1990. Her involvement in local programme delivery for cervical screening began in 1986 whilst she was still in training. Data since 1977 for her Bristol area programme revealed the extent of the barely recognised yet growing overdiagnosis issue within cervical screening. With the support of colleagues in Bristol and nationally, she successfully published on this issue, despite strong opposition from those who regarded this as 'too controversial'. An advocate for honesty and informed consent, Angela has worked part time for the UK National Screening Programmes since it began, combining this with her Bristol-based public health work. In 1997 she was awarded the Skrabanek Prize for contribution to medical ethics.; Professor Anne Mackie lives in London, and fulfilled senior public health roles in the NHS before taking over from Muir Gray in 2007 as Programmes Director for the UK National Screening Programmes. Under her leadership, UK screening has become known for its high quality and robust policy making processes, and the public health ethos of screening is now firmly embedded in NHS culture. Despite continual NHS upheaval she has ensured that within screening there has been continual strengthening of processes for transparent policy making and review, quality assurance and measures, information provision for participants, and universal training and education for screening staff. Anne has also played a role in fostering international collaboration within public health focused screening.; Sir Muir Gray lives in Oxford and has worked in the British National Health Service since 1972, holding many senior positions during his career. He was instrumental in leading the transformation of NHS screening from a disorganised mess in the 1980s, into high quality, evidence based, nationally managed programmes based on informed choice. He was Programmes Director from 1996 when the UK National Screening Programmes were established, through to 2007. Muir also created the National Library of Health, was a key supporter of the Cochrane Collaboration when it was in its infancy, and he continues to influence the NHS through his work with Better Value Healthcare.

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