Routine Check-ups — expensive and worthless

The Cochraine Colaboration is a highly regarded organization which focuses on medical evidence for better health care.  They reviewed the available medical research on the common practice of medical check-ups and came to the following conclusion:

“With the large number of participants and deaths included, the long follow-up periods used, and considering that cardiovascular and cancer mortality were not reduced, general health checks are unlikely to be beneficial.”

General health checks in adults for reducing morbidity and mortality from disease (Review).  Krogsbøll LT et al.  Published Online: 17 OCT 2012.  The Cochrane Library.

This review indicates that you will not live longer or be healthy just as a result of getting a routine check-up.  This should not come as a surprise.  It is actually hard to find good screening tests.  Checking blood pressure, checking weight, and checking cholesterol are about the only proven screening tests.  Those tests and not the “check-up” are what has value.   But, going to a health care provider for pregnancy, vaccinations, symptoms or follow-up of a known condition has tremendous value.  So it is important to make this clear:  if you have a health problem see your health care provider, if you don’t have a problem then get your cholesterol checked, your blood pressure checked, get help if you are over weight, don’t smoke, and don’t drink alcohol.  Outside those guidelines don’t waste your money or time on the routine “check-up”.

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