A recent review concluded that general health checks fail to reduce mortality in adults.
This review focuses on general practice-based health checks and their effects on both surrogate and final outcomes.
Design and setting
Systematic search of PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials.
Relevant data were extracted from randomised trials comparing the health outcomes of general practice-based health checks versus usual care in middle-aged populations.
Six trials were included. The end-point differences between the intervention and control arms in total cholesterol (TC), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP, DBP), and body mass index (BMI) were −0.13 mmol/l (95% confidence interval [CI] = −0.19 to −0.07), −3.65 mmHg (95% CI = −6.50 to −0.81), −1.79 mmHg (95% CI = −2.93 to −0.64), and −0.45 kg/m2 (95% CI = −0.66 to −0.24), respectively. The odds of a patient remaining at ‘high risk’ with elevated TC, SBP, DBP, BMI or continuing smoking were 0.63 (95% CI = 0.50 to 0.79), 0.59 (95% CI = 0.28 to 1.23), 0.63 (95% CI = 0.53 to 0.74), 0.89 (95% CI = 0.81 to 0.98), and 0.91 (95% CI = 0.82 to 1.02), respectively. There was little evidence of a difference in total mortality (OR 1.03, 95% CI = 0.90 to 1.18). Higher CVD mortality was observed in the intervention group (OR 1.30, 95% CI = 1.02 to 1.66).
General practice-based health checks are associated with statistically significant, albeit clinically small, improvements in surrogate outcome control, especially among high-risk patients. Most studies were not originally designed to assess mortality.