Considering potential benefits, as well as harms, from the COVID-19 disruption to cancer screening and other healthcare services

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Public Health Research and Practice


Since 2020, hundreds of thousands of more deaths than expected have been observed across the globe. Amid the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, current research priorities are to control the spread of infection and minimise loss of life. However, there may be future opportunities to learn from the pandemic to build a better healthcare system that delivers maximum health benefits with minimum harm. So far, much research has focused on foregone benefits of healthcare services such as cancer screening during the pandemic. A more balanced approach is to recognise that all healthcare services have potential harms as well as benefits. In this way, we may be able to use pandemic ‘natural experiments’ to identify cases where a reduction in a healthcare service has not been harmful to the population and some instances where this may have even been beneficial.

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National Health and Medical Research Council



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