The Emergence of the Concept of Screening for Disease

Public health officials, industrial leaders, and insurance companies early in this century optimistically advocated the potential for improved health and productivity through regular physical examinations. Doctors and the public, fed both by the exigencies of war and the experience of new technology, later joined the pursuit of protection from hazard-physical, social, and economic. But these very technologies-newer and more “mechanistic”-changed interest in the annual checkup into a fervor for “mass screening.” By the 1970s the quarrel shifted from affective questions to matters of effectiveness and efficiency. Has progress been real?

Author(s): Stanley Joel Reiser

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Volume 56, Issue 4 (pages 403–425)
Published in 1978