Population based screening framework

A Population Based Screening Framework, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) principles of screening has been developed for Australia

Page last updated: 19 September 2020 (this page is generated automatically and reflects updates to other content within the website)

The aim of the Screening Framework is to provide guidance for decision makers when considering potential population based screening program in Australia.
Population Based Screening Framework (PDF 372 KB)
Population Based Screening Framework (Word 1701 KB)

What is population screening?

Population screening refers to a test that is offered to all individuals in a target group, usually defined by age, as part of an organised program.

Screening involves simple tests to look for particular changes, or early signs of a disease, before a disease has developed or in its early stages before any symptoms develop.

No screening test is 100 per cent accurate and the body changes over time, which is why it is important to be screened at regular intervals. If you are worried that you might have a symptom or sign of the disease, you should see your doctor, even if you have recently had a screening test

There are three national population based screening programs in Australia:

Screening tests are different to diagnostic tests

Diagnostic tests are done if you already have symptoms of a disease. They prove that a disease is present.

If you already have signs of a disease, or are at a higher risk of getting a disease, it is important that you see your own doctor for individual care. You should not wait until you are eligible to be involved in a population screening program.

Other types of screening

Other kinds of tests offered to the general population are sometimes called ‘screening tests’ – but they are not part of a population based screening program.

Your doctor or health worker may offer screening tests to you at one of your routine appointments – depending on your history, age or circumstances.

Blood tests to check cholesterol or iron levels are examples of these types of tests.

Genomic tests in population based screening programs

The Standing Committee on Screening has developed a position statement on the use of genomic tests in population based screening programs.

Genomic tests in population based screening programs: Statement (PDF 717 KB)
Genomic tests in population based screening programs: Statement (Word 37 KB)

This Statement has been endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council’s Clinical Principal Committee.

Further information

If you require additional information on cancer screening, please email cancer screening.

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