Major research project to evaluate 'overdiagnosis'

11 November, 2013

An investigative study into the evaluation of disease and cost burdens of "overdiagnosis" has been announced as one of several new research projects within Macquarie University to be awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant.

The Australian government announced recently that the project "Defining disease: addressing the problem of overdiagnosis", led by Professor of Clinical Ethics Wendy Rogers, has received a Future Fellowship worth $820,156 over four years.

The project will investigate and define the limits of physical disease, to answer questions about when a presentation is a disease, and when it is simply a risk factor or mild condition.

The ensuing account of disease will make a practical contribution to growing international concern about asymptomatic people being diagnosed and treated for conditions that will not cause any health problems (overdiagnosis).

The research will provide grounds for evaluating disease claims. Results will reduce the harm caused by people receiving treatment that they do not require, make a practical contribution to debates about the scope of health care, and yield findings that can help to reduce the cost-burdens associated with overdiagnosis.

A total of 34 Macquarie University research projects were successful in receiving a grant, including eight Future Fellowships ($5, 996, 004 total funding), 21 Discovery Projects ($7, 466, 683 total funding), and five Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRAs) ($1, 787, 254 total funding).

Macquarie's success rate was significantly above the national average in Discovery Projects and Future Fellowships, and level with the national average for DECRAs.