For several years I have been trying – and, evidently, failing – to suggest that the information that women get about breast screening isn’t very balanced. The problem- as I see it anyway – is that services are geared to get women to turn up for screening. Whereas, I would like services judged not on how many women turn up, but on how many women make good informed decisions about whether or not they want to have screening at all. As we have had more and better research evidence about breast screening it has become apparent that there are, as well as measurable potential benefits, also measurable potential harms. Just like operations or tablets, doctors should be explaining the pros and the cons, and trying to help people reach a decision about them. (And Gerd Gigerenzer is the master on explaining risk – his book Reckoning with Risk is brilliant.)
So, in the BMJ this week is a vastly improved information leaflet about breast screening, written by the Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre and his colleagues; it’s available here.
I forgot to include a link to the paper – the start of it is here.