Screening centers squelch balanced information

April 1, 2005

Whole-body screening centers fail to provide balanced advertisements, often touting unsupported benefits while downplaying the known risks. Stanford University researchers say the industry needs better oversight to protect consumers.

Whole-body screening centers fail to provide balanced advertisements, often touting unsupported benefits while downplaying the known risks. Stanford University researchers say the industry needs better oversight to protect consumers.

Judy Illes, Ph.D., and colleagues analyzed scores of newspaper ads and brochures from screening centers across the country. They found an overall emphasis on information about healthcare technology, assurances of good health, and financial incentives to self-refer (Arch Intern Med 2004;164:2415-2419).

Some ads stoked fear of the consequences of not obtaining a scan, but references to the risk of radiation associated with CT were missing. Ads from these same companies for their MRI services made explicit reference to that modality's lack of radiation.