Study: General Checkups Are Worthless

The researchers based their findings on 14 trials involving 182,880 people. All trials divided participants into at least two groups: one where participants were invited to general health checks and another where they were not. The number of new diagnoses was generally poorly studied, but in one trial, health checks led to more diagnoses of all kinds. In another trial, people in the group invited to general health checks were more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, as might be expected. In three trials, large numbers of abnormalities were identified in the screened groups.

However, based on nine trials with a total of 11,940 deaths, the researchers found no difference between the number of deaths in the two groups in the long term, either overall or specifically due to cancer or heart disease. Other outcomes were poorly studied, but suggested that offering general health checks has no impact on hospital admissions, disability, worry, specialist referrals, additional visits to doctors or time off work.

Source: Cochrane Review.

Comments (9)

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  1. Hoover says:

    If you have qualifiers which state that “outcomes were poorly studied” for every facet of the publication..

  2. Jimmy says:

    Interesting… But not surprising…

  3. Bob says:

    When studies are at fault, results are usually poor.

  4. Linda Gorman says:

    How can outcomes that are “poorly studied” suggest that general health checks have no effect?

  5. Lucy Hender says:

    I wonder how “general” these “general checkups” are? If these studies are based on “general checkups”, how do they expect to diagnose serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease?
    I’m no doctor, but I would think they need to do more than just a general checkup to be able to detect such serious illnesses…

  6. August says:

    Screening asymptomatic patients probably isn’t cost effective.

    “How should practitioners use the findings of KrogsbĂžll et al? Although available trials have limitations, there is no convincing evidence that general health checks are beneficial”

  7. Robert says:

    Linda, I agree!

  8. seyyed says:

    i do find this to be surprising considering that it is assumed that people that get more general check ups are likely to be healthier or at the very least manage any illnesses before they get worse.

  9. Alex says:

    Linda made an excellent point.