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Information on 'overdiagnosis' in breast cancer screening on prominent United Kingdom- and Australia-oriented health websites

Ghanouni, AP; Meisel, SF; Hersch, J; Waller, J; Wardle, J; Renzi, C; (2016) Information on 'overdiagnosis' in breast cancer screening on prominent United Kingdom- and Australia-oriented health websites. PLOS One , 11 (3) , Article e0152279. 10.1371/journal.pone.0152279. Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives: Health-related websites are an important source of information for the public. Increasing public awareness of overdiagnosis and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in breast cancer screening may facilitate more informed decision-making. This study assessed the extent to which such information was included on prominent health websites oriented towards the general public, and evaluated how it was explained. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Websites identified through Google searches in England (United Kingdom) and New South Wales (Australia) for “breast cancer screening” and further websites included based on our prior knowledge of relevant organisations. Main outcomes: Content analysis was used to determine whether information on overdiagnosis or DCIS existed on each site, how the concepts were described, and what statistics were used to quantify overdiagnosis. Results: After exclusions, ten UK websites and eight Australian websites were considered relevant and evaluated. They originated from charities, health service providers, government agencies, and an independent health organisation. Most contained some information on overdiagnosis (and/or DCIS). Descriptive information was similar across websites. In the UK sample, statistical information was often based on estimates from the Independent UK Panel on Breast Cancer Screening; the most commonly provided statistic was the ratio of breast cancer deaths prevented to overdiagnosed cases (1:3). A range of other statistics was included, such as the yearly number of overdiagnosed cases and the proportion of women screened who would be overdiagnosed. Information on DCIS and statistical information were found less commonly on the Australian websites. Conclusions: Online information about overdiagnosis has become more widely available in 2015-16 compared with the limited accessibility indicated by older research. However, there may be scope to offer more information on DCIS and overdiagnosis statistics on Australian websites. Moreover, the variability in how estimates are presented across UK websites may be confusing for the general public.

Type: Article
Title: Information on 'overdiagnosis' in breast cancer screening on prominent United Kingdom- and Australia-oriented health websites
Location: UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152279
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152279
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 Ghanouni et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Overdiagnosis, Breast cancer, Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, Health screening, Internet, Websites
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy > Practice and Policy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477148
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