View Full Version : BMJ article - Security Screening Effectiveness Needs To Be Investigated

23rd Dec 2007, 10:54
Every year the British Medical Journal publishes a christmas edition containing humorous, not entirely serious, and/or particularly topical articles.
This year it includes a suggestion for an experimental investigation of airport screening effectiveness.

Screening programme evaluation applied to airport security (http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/335/7633/1290)

Essentially the suggestion is to use the techniques that would normally be used to establish the efficacy and cost-effectiveness (i.e. a clinical trial) to investigate airport screening.

Whether the particular study they have suggested would be practical or sensible this article does draw attention to some important issues.

In particular, the authors have looked at the scientific literature and found...

"...no comprehensive studies that evaluated the effectiveness of x ray screening of passengers or hand luggage, screening with metal detectors, or screening to detect explosives."

23rd Dec 2007, 14:07
Of course, we are not proposing that money spent on unconfirmed but politically comforting efforts to identify and seize water bottles and skin moisturisers should be diverted to research on cancer or malaria vaccines

God forbid!! :eek:

After all, I would much rather see myself or a member of my family die of cancer than blown up in an aircraft... or would I? :suspect:

Human Factor
23rd Dec 2007, 23:02
BALPA are publishing a report on how to conduct minimally invasive cardiac surgery next week, I hear...

Apparently the first line reads,

"This procedure is only to be carried out on people who actually require surgery, not the heart surgeon."

24th Dec 2007, 00:41
Before people perhaps get carried away discussing the appropriateness of this sort of topic being addressed in a medical journal - can I reiterate that this appears in the Christmas issue of the BMJ which by tradition contains an "eclectic collection of amusing satire, unfamiliar perspectives, and the truly bizarre".

The article, although not entirely serious, does raise some important issues about security screening (e.g. the lack of evidence for its effectiveness) by drawing parallels with medical practice.

Also note - the BMJ does offer a moderated "Rapid Response" mechanism if anyone has any comments. I'm sure contributions from aviation professionals would be welcome. There is a "Respond to this article" link on the page.