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Medical groups want screening advert rules changed

24 June 2010

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A range of safeguards should be introduced to protect patients from the “irresponsible” direct marketing of private health screening tests, leading medical groups have said.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and British Medical Association (BMA) claimed some individuals are “exploited” by misleading advertising for private screening services, which the groups said can be unreliable and inaccurate.

Both organisations want to see marketing regulations for health screening tightened up to make sure that advertising is “factual” and “balanced”. Changes would include data on the risks and limitations of the tests being included, implications of the results and any follow-up procedures. Any health benefits, with the relevant evidence, would have to be published as well.

Outcomes from procedures such as the PSA test for prostate cancer – carried out in GP surgeries when a person has shown symptoms – also need to be explained to patients, doctors have warned.

They also claimed that people should not be given results for tests such as cholesterol levels without receiving advice based upon their full medical history.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges