For Some, Annual Physicals May Not Be Worth It

Increasingly, experts say some people can skip the yearly check-up
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2024 5:25 PM CST
For Some, Annual Physicals May Not Be Worth It
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Paha_L)

The Wall Street Journal cuts right to the chase in the first line of its article on the traditional yearly medical check-up: "Is your annual physical a waste of time?" The answer seems to be, it depends. An increasing number of doctors say if you're young and healthy, you can probably skip it, an opinion bolstered by a recent review in the medical journal JAMA that found no connection between annual physicals and an overall decrease in mortality rates or cardiovascular issues. Another analysis, however, did find a link between yearly checkups and a lower mortality risk, and the JAMA review found that such annual doctor visits are linked to improved detection and treatment of chronic disease.

With that in mind, some offices are focusing less on the traditional aspects of a physical (checking reflexes, a doctor peering into your ears) and more on using the time to get an overall picture of a person's lifestyle and health: asking about sleep, exercise, nutrition, and mental health, for example. But on the other side, some experts argue that if younger, healthier people skipped the annual check-up, those who need to be seen more urgently wouldn't have to wait as long to get an appointment amid a shortage of primary care physicians. See the full article at the Journal. (More health stories.)

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