The value of conducting periodic health checks

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7775 (Published 20 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7775

Re: The value of conducting periodic health checks

This editorial is a typical example of the need for instant gratification of any health intervention. As any General Practitioner should be aware, healthcare is unrewarding in the shortterm - it is the long term benefits that result from any intervention which are important. One of the difficulties which arose from the 1990 innovations in primary care was that of the need to measure instant results of any action.

As a GP my role was to build-up a picture of a patient's health and needs relying on a jigsaw of contacts and interventions - only after 20 to 30 years of such activity - constantly modified by innovations both in technology and understanding - could I look to see whether my work had been worthwhile.

While I agree with the author that many commercial health screening activities could be questionnable - each and every one will help to improve the patient's understanding of their body and the impact of their lifestyle on their health.

If we are going to use research and reviews to determine whether a primary care based intervention is worthwhile - please measure outcome over decades, not months!

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 November 2012
Nigel Higson
Retired General Practitioner
5 The Heights