Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


The value of conducting periodic health checks

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 20 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7775

Rapid Response:

Re: The value of conducting periodic health checks

The Health Screening Editorial by MacAuley (1) is at best naive and at worst biased.

In few branches of medicine can we be certain we are improving outcomes for patients and Health Screening is no exception in this respect.

It is by no means clear that the meta-analysis reported by Krogsboll et al (2) was powerful enough to detect any benefit of Periodic Health Checks and to focus on possible harms, something not examined in the studies used for the meta-analysis, was wrong.

The purpose of Health Checks in the majority of cases is to demonstrate a negative - that an individual has no disease we can detect. In the minority of cases where a condition is found which is known to carry risk then analysis of benefits and harms should focus on those conditions and not on the Health Screening itself.

The majority of disease is asymptomatic and screening can be a pointer to such diseases. Most of us are aware that the detection of conditions which carry risk and the influence of their progression are two very different matters.

Dr. David C Owen
Wellness Physician / GP
SPIRE Hospital


(1)BMJ 2012;345:e7775
(2)BMJ 2012;345:e7191

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 November 2012
David C Owen
General Practitioner
SPIRE Hosp, Cardiff