Workshop: Defining the boundaries of disease

Abstract due date: 30 April 2015

A two-day multi-disciplinary workshop will be held at Macquarie University, Sydney, on October 15-16, 2015. This workshop brings scholars in the philosophy of medicine together with practicing clinicians in discussing where, and why, the boundaries of disease should be set.

Confirmed participants:
Wendy Craig (Department of Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary)
Jenny Doust (Centre for Research in Evidence-based Practice, Bond University)
Wendy Rogers (Philosophy Department and Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Macquarie University)
Thomas Schramme (Department of Philosophy, University of Hamburg)
Mary Walker (Philosophy Department, Macquarie University)

Questions relating to what should and should not be counted as disease, and where exactly the boundary between disease and non-disease should lie, are critical to the provision of appropriate health care. However, these questions have become increasingly complex with changes in medical knowledge and diagnostic technologies. The distinction between risk factor and disease has become blurred; common diseases have been redefined expansively (e.g. type 2 diabetes or chronic kidney disease); and sophisticated diagnostic tests now detect abnormalities which may or may not have pathological implications.

Responding to these questions requires engaging with medical and scientific knowledge and with the philosophical literature on disease definition. But these are not merely interesting academic questions: there are serious practical implications to setting disease boundaries. Where is the ‘right’ place for these boundaries, such that patients receive appropriate treatments to avoid excess morbidity and mortality, while avoiding the harms of overdiagnosis and overtreatment?

For further information or to submit an abstract contact Mary Walker (mary.walker@mq.edu.au)

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