Health and FitnessMedical

Know the Differences Between Screening Tests, Diagnostic Tests, and Case Finding

Usually, we visit a health clinic, center, or hospital to see a respective doctor when we fall ill. The doctor recommends a few tests, screenings, or a full body checkup in Delhi or your locality after interacting with you and doing a physical examination. For these tests and screenings, you visit a pathology or center offering services for the same. Have you ever thought about what screening tests, diagnostic tests, and case finding are and what differences are among them? No, okay not an issue. Here, have a look at all these: 

What are screening tests?

A screening test is a process of screening a particular body or the whole body to detect probable health issues or conditions in people who have no visible signs of any diseases. Its primary goal is early detection and lifestyle changes for minimizing the risk of diseases. Some screening tests are X-rays, mammography, and MRIs.  

What are diagnostic tests?

A diagnostic test is a type of test done at a pathology lab for the identification of a health condition and its cause. It is a part of medical examination and is used to diagnose a disease. Further, health experts use it for identifying particular weaknesses, strengths, and causes of particular behavioral changes. Some examples of diagnostic tests are CBC (complete blood count), bone density study, and ECG (electrocardiogram). 

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What is a case finding?

Case finding is a strategy or procedure to target resources at people or groups of people who are probable suspects for a specific disease. It includes active searches for people at risk instead of waiting for the presence of symptoms of a particular disease in them. It is somewhat similar to screening tests as both look for the risk and resources for further investigation. An example of case-finding is communicable disease control. 

Differences between screening tests and diagnostic tests

Screening tests and diagnostic tests differ to each other at different levels – purpose, target, method, and cost. Have a close look at the following table to comprehend the differences well:

Screening tests  Diagnostic tests 
Purpose It aims to detect probable disease indicators Its primary focus is to show the presence or absence of a particular disease  
Test method Simple, and acceptable to all patients and medical staff  It might be invasive and expensive. However, it is necessary to detect the presence or absence of a health condition 
Target population  It targets a large number of asymptomatic and probable people at risk It targets both asymptomatic and symptomatic people to detect a disease 
Positive result threshold  It is chosen for high sensitivity but not for missing probable disease  It is selected for highly specific with a focus on accuracy and precision
Positive result  It basically shows off suspicion of diseases that warrants confirmation  Its result produces a certain diagnosis 
Cost  It is inexpensive as it targets a large number of people  It is more expensive in comparison with screening tests but is crucial for establishing a disease’s presence or absence 


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