Call for Papers

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The editors of Quality of Life Research are planning a special issue on a prominent topic in health related quality of life research.

Those interested in participating in the special issue must submit a letter of intent, and a subset of these letters of intent will be invited to submit a full manuscript.

Consequences of Overdiagnosis for Health Related Quality of Life

The Editors of Quality of Life Research are planning a special issue to illuminate current and innovative state-of-the-art thinking, evidence, and methodological and clinical approaches to overdiagnosis and its consequences for health related quality of life (HRQL). Overdiagnosis has been recognized as a key problem in contemporary healthcare. It is an issue across a wide range of services, diseases, and disorders, and is likely to need a response from a wide range of actors involved in treatment, care, and rehabilitation. While the topic is widely recognised, the specific consequences for patients’ and carers’ health related quality of life remain underexplored.

For the purposes of the special issue we are following a broad definition of the term “overdiagnosis,” which is used to describe for example:

  • “[…] when people without symptoms are diagnosed with a disease that ultimately will not cause them to experience symptoms or early death.” and “[m]ore broadly defined, overdiagnosis refers to the related problems of overmedicalisation and subsequent overtreatment, diagnosis creep, shifting thresholds, and disease mongering, all processes helping to reclassify healthy people with mild problems or at low risk as sick.” (Moynihan et al., 2012, BMJ, 344:e3502)
  • “[…] overdiagnosis and any subsequent overtreatment are terms generally used about instances in which a diagnosis is ‘correct’ according to current standards but the diagnosis or associated treatment has a low probability of benefitting the patient, and may instead be harmful.” (Armstrong, 2018, BMJ Qual Saf, 27:571–574)

As widely described in the literature, overdiagnosis negatively impacts health care systems in a variety of ways. In this special issue we are interested in receiving submissions that focus on the consequences experienced by patients and/or carers, especially with view to their HRQL. We are looking for innovative theoretical approaches, applications, and research around exploring this issue. More specifically we are looking for manuscripts including but not limited to:

  • Contributions to theoretical and empirical approaches to capturing overmedicalisation and its consequences for HRQL.
  • Approaches to reduce the occurrence of overdiagnosis in services by using subjective outcome data (e.g., PROMs, CREMs).
  • Approaches to reduce the occurrence of overdiagnosis in services and their effect on patients’ HRQL.
  • Conceptual and empirical studies on how to use archival and routine outcome data to investigate the occurrence of overdiagnosis and its consequences.
  • The main thrust of the call is focused on patients and their HRQL, but manuscripts focusing on the HRQL of other stakeholders (especially carers) are welcome and will also be considered.

To participate in this call, please submit a letter of intent with draft title, contact information and institution for all co-authors, and a structured abstract (300 word maximum). A subset of these letters of intent will be invited to submit a full manuscript.

Anticipated timeline: 

Letters of intent will be accepted and handled on an ongoing basis until the final submission deadline of 29 May 2020. Please email the letters to Jan R. Boehnke ( and Claudia Rutherford (

Invitations for full papers will be provided within two weeks after submission of the letter of intent.

After invitation, manuscript submissions will be handled on an ongoing basis and sent out to review. The final deadline for the submission of a first full version of an invited manuscript is the 31 August 2020.

Papers will be published online-first if accepted after normal peer-review. We anticipate to publish the special section in print in winter 2020/2021.

The International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL) is a global community of researchers, clinicians, health care professionals, industry professionals, consultants, and patient research partners advancing health related quality of life research (HRQL).

Together, we are creating a future in which patient perspective is integral to health research, care and policy.