The protection of health through periodic physical examination, like international disarmament, has been accepted in principle with but little practical result. The plan was first proposed in 1861 by Dr. Horace Dobell, whose recommendations were ignored. It was again suggested in 1901 by Dr. George M. Gould. The effort toward popularization was officially endorsed by the American Medical Association in 1922, but commercial exploitation had begun before 1917. State and county medical societies, public health officials and insurance companies have done their utmost, yet the gain in popular favor represented by increased utilization is slight. For the most part, the American people have not translated their acceptance of the idea into action.
Perhaps one of the reasons why the examination of apparently healthy persons as a prophylactic measure has not been more popular is that too much emphasis has been placed on life extension and not enough on life enrichment.
THE PERIODIC PHYSICAL EXAMINATION IN YOUTH. JAMA. 1933;100(24):1936–1937. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740240032015