Let’s get physical; well maybe not so fast
Good ideas, huh? Not so fast, a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine raises questions about the costs and uncertain results of general, annual physical examinations.
Study leaders reviewed and analyzed research of 14 randomized, controlled trials involving more than 182,000 people. These individuals were followed for an average of nine years to evaluate the benefits of routine, general health checkups.
They concluded that these appointments are unlikely to be beneficial. Regardless of which screenings and tests were administered, studies of annual health exams dating from 1963 to 1999 show that annual physicals did not reduce mortality overall or for specific causes of death from cancer or heart disease. Additionally, checkups cost billions of dollars. No one is sure how much is spent due to the calculating cost of additional screenings and follow-up tests.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not have a recommendation on routine annual checkups. Still, most adults – and physicians – concede that an annual examination may well be a significant component of one’s overall health, no matter how good one feels.
Despite questions about the necessity of annual exams, some physicians say it’s important to take a long-term view of their health.
“There should not be a concern regarding whether or not annual physical exams are warranted,” says Dr. Gary Stuck, a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL. “It is important that patients and physicians build long-term relationships and have shared decision-making regarding preventive care, immunizations, evidence-based screening or diagnostic testing, and follow-up visits.”
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