Table 1

Understanding of ‘overdiagnosis’ among participants who had previously encountered the term (n=117): emerging (sub)themes

CategoryExemplar quote (spelling errors corrected)n (%)
Response not categorised or no knowledge
 Incoherent, irrelevant or too vague to interpret“More than a person says.”21 (17.9)
 No knowledge“Not sure.”10 (8.5)
Diagnosis-related responses
 Overly negative or complicated diagnosis“Where certain illnesses are overstated in their severity.”12 (10.3)
 False-positive diagnosis“Diagnosis of a condition that is not really there.”11 (9.4)
 Overdiagnosis“I think it means the diagnosis of a disease that will not cause symptoms or death.”9 (7.7)
 Too many diagnoses“Finding out all the complaints that may be wrong with you.”8 (6.8)
 Overly detailed diagnosis“A condition has been over-described.”4 (3.4)
 Misdiagnosis“Diagnosing minor problems rather than the real problem at source.”1 (0.9)
 Diagnosis based on stereotypes“Diagnosis based on stereotypes e.g. The patient is overweight therefore he will have a CVA.”1 (0.9)
Test-related responses
 Too many tests“Patient undergoing more tests than necessary to diagnose a disease.”6 (5.1)
Treatment-related responses
 Inappropriate treatment“Taking medicine not needed.”1 (0.9)
 Overtreatment“Had taken too many pills, or dr. prescribe too many different pills the person must take, when don’t need.”1 (0.9)
Responses related to patients' psychology
 Overthinking“When you think things through to such an extent that you confuse things or make them more complicated or important than they deserve to be.”20 (17.1)
 Overly health-sensitive“Over-analysing of minor conditions until you are convinced that there is a condition to be treated.”4 (3.4)
 Anticipating a worse diagnosis“Presuming something nasty is wrong before running tests.”3 (2.6)
Other responses
 Medicalising issues unrelated to health“When non-health-related issues are medicalised.”2 (1.7)
 Defensive medicine“Must have an answer, doctors not wanted to be sued.”1 (0.9)
 Iatrogenic illness“Iatrogenic illness”1 (0.9)
 Too many attempts at prevention“Too much preventing what may happen or not.”1 (0.9)