When President Obama recently received a regular health checkup complimented by a battery of medical tests, many people likely applauded the effort, based on a popular understanding that a high frequency and considerable breadth of diagnostic tests is beneficial for health. Yet in a recent news brief, experts have pointed to the President’s series of exams as one of many examples of over-testing, a problem they suggest is growing increasingly large. Influencing both medical and psychological well-being, over-testing can have a profound impact on the actual health of the client as well as on the cost of medical care.
Some doctors have noted feeling pressured into ordering potentially unnecessary tests to avoid potential malpractice suits or allegations of neglect, while others may encounter significant pressure from clients themselves, convinced that they need a test for something for which they may not be a likely candidate. Experts have warned that some tests, especially those which expose clients to radiation or which are invasive, may actually contribute to harm while producing little to no benefit when clients are not at risk for a particular issue.
While psychotherapy lacks medically invasive or radiation-laced diagnostics, some within the mental health field have been accused of being too quick to order tests or to move towards, and treat, a particular diagnosis. Through talking to clients about the unnecessary nature of some tests, and through being more forthcoming with information and less willing to participate in clients’ effective self-diagnosis and self-medication, professionals may be able to help their clients achieve better health through meaningful, rather than overdone, prevention. By re-learning what prevention means, the experts note, people may experience better health –and a lot less time spent undergoing tests.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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