Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews

The NHS heart age test will overload GPs who are already under huge pressure

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3930 (Published 19 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3930
  1. Tom Nolan, GP
  1. The BMJ
  2. tnolan@bmj.com

Providing tools that don’t acknowledge uncertainty will erode the public’s trust in the health service

“Why are so many of us heading for an early grave?” asked the Guardian last week. The NHS online heart age test made headlines when Public Health England revealed that 81% of the 1.9 million people who have taken the test had a heart age above their real age. If only the public would exercise, eat well, and stop smoking. If more people knew their heart age, perhaps they would?

Unfortunately, the evidence to support risk calculators being used as standalone tools for behaviour change is lacking. In my own qualitative research on this subject I was struck by how differently people responded to seeing their heart age on a screen. But even those who didn’t like what they saw felt it was a good thing to do—and perhaps this …

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