Objectives The increasing awareness and research in overdiagnosis may change the concept itself. This can be for the better by providing new insights for more nuanced and rich investigations. It can also be for the worse, by turning the concept into theoretical emptiness, meaning widening a concept to an extent of which it no longer describes the intended, specific phenomenon. One example of such, is stress, which describes various phenomena within multiple disciplines: from psychology to social care to everyday life. Is the concept of overdiagnosis drifting in the same way? Scholars within overdiagnosis highlight the need for conceptual clarification. We present the preliminary results of an overview of current overdiagnosis definitions. We furthermore suggest some benefits and limitations of each conceptual approach. The analysis can provide insights of where the concept of overdiagnosis is considered to be today, where it may be heading, and what conceptual risks this may involve.
Method To survey the conceptual multiplicity of overdiagnosis in the increasing literature, we focused on the studies that explicitly analysed or coined its definition. Inclusion criteria were therefore an explicit suggested definition of overdiagnosis in medicine, including synonyms of definition such as ‘overdiagnosis is…’. Exclusion criteria were literature that referred to other papers when defining overdiagnosis as well as literature that stated a different aim than suggesting a definition, such as measuring the extent of overdiagnosis of a specific condition. Papers were further excluded if they defined overdiagnosis for specific conditions, such as overdiagnosis in cancer or psychiatry. Importantly, although excluded for this analysis of definitions, these papers can provide important conceptual contributions to the overdiagnosis concept. To analyse and compare, we draw from methods by Morse et al (1996, 2016) and Penrod and Hubcey (2005) within the nurse literature.
Results The preliminary results will be presented at the conference.
Conclusions The preliminary conclusions will be presented at the conference.
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