Medicalization and overdiagnosis: different but alike

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 19 (2):253-264 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Medicalization is frequently defined as a process by which some non-medical aspects of human life become to be considered as medical problems. Overdiagnosis, on the other hand, is most often defined as diagnosing a biomedical condition that in the absence of testing would not cause symptoms or death in the person’s lifetime. Medicalization and overdiagnosis are related concepts as both expand the extension of the concept of disease. They are both often used normatively to critique unwarranted or contested expansion of medicine and to address health services that are considered to be unnecessary, futile, or even harmful. However, there are important differences between the concepts, as not all cases of overdiagnosis are medicalizations and not all cases of medicalizations are overdiagnosis. The objective of this article is to clarify the differences between medicalization and overdiagnosis. It will demonstrate how the subject matter of medicalization traditionally has been non-medical phenomena, while the subject matter of overdiagnosis has been biological or biomolecular conditions or processes acknowledged being potentially harmful. They also refer to different types of uncertainty: medicalization is concerned with indeterminacy, while overdiagnosis is concerned with lack of prognostic knowledge. Medicalization is dealing with sickness while overdiagnosis with disease. Despite these differences, medicalization and overdiagnosis are becoming more alike. Medicalization is expanding, encompassing the more “technical” aspects of overdiagnosis, while overdiagnosis is becoming more ideologized. Moreover, with new trends in modern medicine, such as P4 medicine, medicalization will become all-encompassing, while overdiagnosis more or less may dissolve. In the end they may converge in some total “iatrogenization.” In doing so, the concepts may lose their precision and critical sting.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,509

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Patient Complains of …: How Medicalization Mediates Power and Justice.Alison Reiheld - 2010 - International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 3 (1):72-98.
The Medicalization of Love.Brian D. Earp, Anders Sandberg & Julian Savulescu - 2015 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (3):323-336.
The Medicalization of Cyberspace. [REVIEW]Andy Miah - 2009 - Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 7 (2/3):211-213.
Why Psychiatry Should Fear Medicalisation.Louis C. Charland - 2013 - In K. W. M. Fulford, Davies M., Gipps R., Graham G., Sadler J., Stanghellini G. & Thornton T. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry. Oxford University Press. pp. 159-175.
The Medicalization of Love and Narrow and Broad Conceptions of Human Well-Being.Sven Nyholm - 2015 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (3):337-346.
The Medicalization of Dying.Michael M. Burgess - 1993 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 18 (3):269-279.

Analytics

Added to PP
2016-09-07

Downloads
32 (#362,084)

6 months
2 (#277,663)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

The Social Construction of What?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
On the Distinction Between Disease and Illness.Christopher Boorse - 1975 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 5 (1):49-68.
A Second Rebuttal On Health.Christopher Boorse - 2014 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (6):683-724.
The Medicalization of Love.Brian D. Earp, Anders Sandberg & Julian Savulescu - 2015 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (3):323-336.

View all 22 references / Add more references