Unifying Concepts

Criteria for Evaluating the Effectiveness of Screening for a Risk Factor

Characteristics of the disease

1. Disease has serious consequences

2. Screening population has a high incidence* of disease

3. Risk factor is a good predictor of disease

Characteristics of the test

4. Screening test has a high accuracy for detecting the risk factor

5. Screening test detects the risk factor before the critical point

6. Screening test causes little morbidity

7. Screening test is affordable and available

Characteristics of prevention

8. Prevention exists

9. Prevention is more effective than treatment for the disease

10. Prevention is not too risky or toxic

* Incidence is the rate of new occurrence of disease in a previously disease-free population over a particular time period.



  1. Obuchowski NA, Modic MT. Calcium scoring: criteria for evaluating its effectiveness. Semin Ultrasound CT MR. 2003 Feb;24(1):39-44. [Medline]
  2. Obuchowski NA, Graham RJ, Baker ME, Powell KA. Ten criteria for effective screening: their application to multi-slice CT screening for pulmonary and colorectal cancers. AJR Am J Roentgenol 2001;176:1357 –62. [Medline]


Created: Jan 27, 2007

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