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According to this study:
* General health checks do not reduce morbidity or mortality.
A recent Cochrane systematic review examined whether general health checks in adults have a positive effect on morbidity or mortality. The review included 14 randomized trials with follow-up periods ranging from one to 22 years; nine provided mortality data. A health check was defined as a health care visit at which tests were conducted to screen for more than one disease or risk factor in more than one organ system; the check could occur once or multiple times. Participants in all studies were 18 years of age or older and had no known risk factors or diseases. The trials included a total of 76,403 subjects who received checks and 106,477 controls.
The nine studies documenting mortality reported 11,940 deaths among 155,899 people. The data suggested that general health checks had no effect on mortality. Similarly, no effect was noted when specific causes of death, such as cancer or cardiovascular disease, were analyzed. Events related to morbidity, such as heart disease, were rarely reported; the data showed that health checks didn't improve morbidity, either.
The authors write that their results don't support the use of general health checks "aimed at a general adult population." They propose a number of possible explanations, such as outdated treatments (many of the studies were old) and the inefficacy of preventive drugs. They also suggest that the people who could benefit most from health checks might not be receiving them. Instead, those with, for example, a higher socioeconomic status, lower mortality and cardiovascular risk, and less cardiovascular morbidity tend to be more likely to receive general health checks.
Krogsboll LT, et al. BMJ. 2012;345:e7191
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