Exploring the social and ethical implications of risk stratified screening for society as a whole

Principal Investigator: Dr Juliet Usher-Smith, Department of Public Health and Primary Care
Funded by: CRUK Cambridge Centre Early Detection Programme Pump Priming Awards 2020

Advancing early cancer detection requires ensuring optimised screening programmes. Stratified screening has been suggested as a means of improving the efficiency of early detection by better targeting screening tests. Moving to an approach in which screening varies according to individuals’ risk as opposed to broad population selection, however, has important social and ethical implications that have largely not been considered in previous research.

In line with a key focus of the programme to understand the implications of early detection for society as a whole, this project will explore the social and ethical implications of risk stratified screening. Using two methods not previously applied in this field we will elicit views from both a societal and individual perspective on the most acceptable strategies for introducing risk stratification into both existing and new screening programmes.

Building on research led by Usher-Smith, Stewart and Griffin from The Primary Care Unit and Department of Surgery, this project is also developing new multidisciplinary collaborations with experts in ethics (John, Department of History and Philosophy of Science), Health Economics (Morris, Department of Public Health and Primary Care) and policy (Moorthie, the PHG Foundation) that will enable future externally funded research in this area.