Despite a lack of evidence in support of the practice of routine annual physical examinations, it was not until 1979 that there was any consensus statement in Canada recommending against it.1,2 In the United States, such a negative recommendation first appeared officially in 1996.3 In this issue of the ARCHIVES, Prochazka et al4 report evidence that primary care physicians throughout the United States still endorse not only the concept of an “annual physical” for all adults, but also numerous screening tests for which there is no substantial evidence of utility. These attitudes persist despite an explicit recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force that there is insufficient evidence to support such a practice, published almost 10 years ago. A previous study by the same group about patients’ attitudes indicated that patients similarly endorse the concept of the annual physical, but much less enthusiastically when they are responsible for the burden of paying for it.5 Are patients and physicians telling us something the evidence is not?
Patrick G. O’Malley, Philip Greenland. The Annual PhysicalAre Physicians and Patients Telling Us Something?. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165(12):1333–1334. doi:10.1001/archinte.165.12.1333