Evidence suggests they are ineffective in some cases and can lead to unnecessary testing.

perspective piece in the journal JAMA has questioned the value of the time-honoured annual check-up at the family doctor, citing a recent study that found it is of doubtful benefit and may lead to unnecessary tests and treatment.

The author, JAMA senior writer Rita Rubin, refers to a Cochrane Review, published in January, which found “high certainty” evidence that giving healthy adults tests such as blood pressure, cholesterol, ECG and screens for various cancers does not improve outcomes.

The Cochrane Review looked at 17 randomised trials covering more than a quarter of a million adults, concluding that “health checks have little or no effect on the risk of death from any cause… or on the risk of death from cancer”. The review also found health checks “probably have little or no effect on the risk of death from cardiovascular causes”.

The results seem to fly in the face of an axiom in medical care; the idea that prevention is better than cure. So, what is going on?

The Cochrane Review authors suggest a range of possible reasons for their findings.

Read the full article in Cosmos magazine here