General Preventive Checkups Do Not Improve Health Outcomes, Study Shows

November 2, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


General health checkups were not associated with reduced mortality or morbidity and, therefore, are unlikely to be beneficial, concludes a Cochrane review of 14 clinical trials that was published online October 17, 2012. Nine studies examining the number of patient deaths during the follow-up period showed no effect on overall mortality or on deaths from heart disease, stroke, or cancer. Two large trials that measured prevention showed that checkups had no effect. The authors observe that none of the trials measured potential harmful effects of checkups for healthy patients, such as increased use of follow-up diagnostic testing and short-term anxiety. According to the authors, the lack of impact on health outcomes may be explained by the fact that primary care physicians already identify and treat conditions while they treat patients for other problems and because the data is based on outdated clinical guidelines, so the results may be less applicable today due to changes to the recommended treatments and risk factors.

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