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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 51-55

Are periodic health checkups useful or necessary?

Department of Internal Medicine, MVJ MC and RH, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vasantha Kamath
MVJ MC and RH, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AJIM.AJIM_80_19

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Much has been debated about routine periodic health screening in recent years. Those in favor of such screening of laboratory investigations point to the economic and social advantages of early detection and better diagnosis of disease to an individual and the community. The opponents of this type of blanket screening point to the dubious diagnostic value of many of the abnormal results found and the impracticability of making laboratory screening generally available even if it was shown to be of definite value. Despite contrary evidence, most primary care providers believe that an annual physical examination detects subclinical illness. This is partly driven and shaped by factors such as apparent perception of benefit, patient expectation, employer requirement, and insurance industry protocols. Healthcare institutions in India often offer structured health checkup “packages” for routine screening of common diseases. Some tests included within their ambit are in keeping with international and Indian recommendations; however, many are entirely unwarranted. Unnecessary and inappropriate screening tests cause financial and resource burden. Furthermore, there may be overdiagnosis and overtreatment, psychological distress due to false-positive test results, harm from invasive follow-up tests, and false reassurance due to false-negative test results. Evidence suggests that only certain diseases are amenable for screening in an asymptomatic adult. It is recommended that physicians should abandon recommending these general panels in favor of a more selective approach to prevent health problems individualized to every unique patient.

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