Friday, April 3, 2015

General health checks don't reduce morbidity or mortality

Nope. Looking for disease in asymptomatic adults (but perhaps excluding those >65 yrs old) does not decrease the risk of cardiovascular or cancer death, but could lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

"General health checks involve a contact between a person and a healthcare professional to identify signs, symptoms, or risk factors for disease that were previously unrecognised. They are combinations of screening tests, few of which have been adequately studied in randomised trials. For example, although the benefits and harms of treatments for conditions such as hypertension and diabetes have been extensively studied in randomised trials, screening asymptomatic people for these conditions has not."
"We did not find an effect on total or cause-specific mortality from general health checks in adult populations unselected for risk factors or disease. For total mortality, our confidence interval includes a 5% reduction and a 3% increase, both of which would be clinically relevant. However, for the causes of death most likely to be influenced by health checks, cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality, there were no reductions either."

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