March 14, 1966

Periodic Health Examination— How Effective?

JAMA. 1966;195(11):30-31. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100110022009

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The roster is familiar, if not monotonous, to nearly all physicians: history, physical examination, urinalysis, hemoglobin, chest x-ray, ECG, sigmoidoscopy, another test or two and possibly a bit of serendipity.

This standard health examination, with variations, is performed on uncounted thousands each year. The result is a vast, mostly unanalyzed jungle of data that holds potential answers to a most important question:

  • What effect does regular periodic health examination have on morbidity and mortality? The question itself includes another basic one:

  • What should be included in a health examination?

Such broad questions may only be answered by a series of more precise observations, such as those being ferreted out in the Periodic Health Examination Research Project, based at the University of Pennsylvania. It is supported by a grant from the US Public Health Service.

More than 21,000 persons who have undergone one or more health examinations at eight

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