Seminar | Screening Programs and Health Care Decision Making: Utility, Disutility and Inertia

Tracy Roberts, University of Birmingham

Thursday, July 18, 2019
12:30 pm
Room 700, 828 W. 10th Ave.
Vancouver General Hospital Research Pavilion

The reach and influence of screening programs are considered important for public health in many countries. Screening comprises tests offered to apparently ‘healthy’ and certainly asymptomatic individuals, identifying those deemed to need further investigations or treatment. The potential for overestimating the benefits of screening is well documented but the quantification of the associated harms, often referred to as disutility, has been largely overlooked in model based economic evaluations. This presentation will focus on these issues in the context two contrasting case studies of screening interventions and their impact on policy in the UK – Pulse oximetry as a screening test for critical congenital heart defects in newborn infants and breast cancer screening. It will discuss methods and challenges for quantifying the harms and report an empirical study explicitly focused on quantifying the utility and dis-utility associated with screening for one of these case studies. Finally, it will reflect upon the risk of misplaced policy decisions unless the decision process includes the appropriate utilities and dis-utilities associated with screening.

Tracy Roberts is Professor of Health Economics and Head of Unit in the Health Economics Unit at the Institute of Applied Health Research in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

This seminar is cosponsored by the Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control, The Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation, and the UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research.