Disease mongering

Disease mongering has also been termed the corporate construction of disease or the medicalisation of society. It involves the widening of the diagnostic boundaries of illnesses and aggressively promoting their public awareness in order to expand the markets for treatment. While a condition may exist and be an issue for a selection of the population, suppliers are able to exaggerate the incidence, prevalence and severity of a condition to increase the use of a product. This means a common condition can evolve into a disease that requires treatment.

This is achieved in collaboration with supporting healthcare professionals and patient groups that are able to act as informal thought-leaders. The use of direct-to-consumer advertising, unnecessary screening tests or awareness raising campaigns can also be used to increase public support for the treatment of the condition.

Unnecessary procedures and overtreatment can cause negative patient health outcomes, in terms of adverse effects, as well as mental concern and fear. It also increases the cost of healthcare, as payers fund these procedures at the expense of other services.