Over-medicalization and Quaternary Prevention


During the last decades, scientific medicine made impressive strides. Developing imaging and diagnostic techniques, drug therapies, new surgery and interventional techniques made cures remarkably improve. At the same time, they led incurable considered diseases to healing.


Nevertheless, there are negative effects arising not only from inappropriate intervention, adverse reactions and collateral effects, but also from the consequences of practising some of the diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. One of the most significant examples is over-diagnosis in mass screening tests. For instance, although when severe conditions occur, early diagnosis allows less invasive and better treatment, there still is a share of patients who are diagnosed with and treated for those conditions who would have never shown any symptoms or health-threatening consequences.

Nowadays, there is plenty of literature about a significant number of tumour diseases, calculating with sufficient approximation the width of the problem. Physicians suggesting their patients screening tests are, therefore, obliged to illustrate them benefits and damages concerning the specific method.


Actually over-medicalization, known as an excessive or inappropriate use of health services, is a widespread problem, and not anymore only limited to developed countries, threatening patients’ wellbeing, not to mention increasing public health costs. Spasmodic disease research as a result of any type of symptoms is constantly increasing, even when symptoms are not connected to any evidence of clinical condition. This sometimes generates over-treatment and potential harm for patients. We are talking about a cultural phenomenon, to which contributed pharmaceutical and biomedical industries pressure, and often even medical councils.

In the latest years, the notion of quaternary prevention came up as the act of detecting over-medicalization-risk-exposed patients, in order to protect them from further medical intervention and to propose ethically suitable diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.


The so far exposed notions are little known by physicians, because of the lack of independent information which illustrates their importance in the daily professional activity. The Conference aims to update our knowledge about over-diagnosis and over-medicalization in order to promote an aware and critical behaviour facing patients’ everyday problems.

Our conference will host Italian and International experts on the subject of over-diagnosis and quaternary prevention.

Health sector commercial sponsors have not been invited.


Scientific board

Ernesto Mola, Vittorio Caimi, Andrea Moser, Giorgio Visentin, Alessandro Mereu, Patrizia Elli, Alessandro Menin, Harris Lygidakis


Organizational secretary

Paolo Moscara, Giuseppe Febbo, Giulia Cusmano, Giulia De Rinaldis, Delia Epifani

29-30 September 2017
Lecce, Italy