Over-Testing Singled Out as Major Modern Health Issue

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • orlando jordon

    orlando jordon

    March 16th, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    while over-testing being prescribed by a medical practitioner on a regular basis with only the safety of the self aspect in mind is not right, doing so just to be sure about one’s health and to prevent any future complications is not such a bad thing after all.

  • G.Ferguson


    March 16th, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    No medical professional who is good at his practice will prescribe more than what is needed. Only those who are not too sure of their own abilities will do so.

    But still,if some are doing it, it has to be for this: apart from the safety point of view, it may have to do with acquiring a higher fees from the patients…?!

  • Steve


    March 17th, 2010 at 5:01 AM

    But look at how the cost of these tests are driving up insurance costs for the little guy.

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