What does screening for a disorder really mean?
Screening refers to a preliminary step of identifying persons who may have the condition of interest. If a screening test is positive, then more detailed evaluation is done.
What is the advantage of using screening?
Screening questions, questionnaires, or tests are extremely useful for several reasons:
1. They reduce the chances that a particular condition will be missed.
2. They save time because evaluation efforts for a particular condition can be focused on those who are more likely to have the disorder.
Common misunderstanding about screening
It us extremely important to be clear that screening positive for a disorder is NOT the same as diagnosing the disorder. If a person “screens positive” for a disorder, it simply means that there is a greater chance that this person has the disorder and should be evaluated in more detail. On the other hand, if the person “screens negative” for the disorder, unless there is other information suggesting that this person has the disorder, ordinarily no further evaluation for the disorder is done. If we are going to do a detailed evaluation for the disorder for everyone, then there is no point doing the screening test, is there?