Archived—Project Summaries 2008-2009 - Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - British Columbia Office

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1. What's in a Scan? How Well Are Consumers Informed About the Benefits and Harms Related to Screening Technology (PET and CT Scans) in Canada?


The promotion and use of diagnostic screening technologies such as MRI, PET and CT scans are on the rise in Canada, including the marketing of such scans for "prevention" and validation of insurance claims. While many health care professionals value these scanning technologies to diagnose and treat cardiac or cancer patients, using them to screen asymptomatic or otherwise healthy people is highly controversial, especially because the technologies are not benign. Scanning technology has side effects, including delivering doses of radiation in ranges that may lead to cancer, and driving medical investigations which can sometimes lead to a cascade of avoidable and serious health problems. These in turn can lead to negative economic consequences for individuals, families, employers, insurers and the public health system. The high stakes, high risks and high costs make all those considering such procedures vulnerable consumers. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-BC want to know: What is the quality of information Canadian consumers currently get regarding the use of screening technologies on asymptomatic people?

Expected Outcome: A report that presents three things:

  • An evidence-based assessment of health and societal risks associated with the use of scanning technologies on asymptomatic people.
  • An assessment of scanning media/marketing materials and a brief assessment of Canadian consumer perceptions of scanning technologies
  • A range of policy-level recommendations that can inform regulatory approaches to issues related to PET and CT scan marketing to Canadian consumers