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Is an annual physical exam worth it?

this was from an email I get sent to me. Very counterintuitive in terms of preventive stuff. So If i don't do the exam, what should I be doing?????

Study Questions Value of Annual Physical Exams

For healthy American adults, the benefits of an annual physical exam may not justify the cost, according to a study in the current issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

"A lot of doctors don't think physical exams are very helpful," said author Ateev Mehrotra, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The study found that 80 percent of preventive care occurs during other kinds of patient visits to doctors, such as a complaint about a minor ailment, said US News and World Report.

"The annual physical is not necessary," said Rick Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He said people don't need to be concerned if they miss an annual physical, or several, as long as they have their doctor's approval and remain in close communication with their doctor.

However, a 2005 survey of 800 primary care physicians in Boston, Denver and San Diego found that 65 percent of them believed that an annual physical was a necessity, said US News and World Report. The survey also found that 74 percent of the doctors said annual exams improved early detection of illness, and 94 percent believed they improved patient-doctor relationships.


Wed. Sep 26, 4:40pm

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Wow there are a lot of medical care issues today in threads. I don't really think an annual medical exam is really needed, however, I think women should get a pap at LEAST once a year. Some things, like ovarian or uterine cancer, if left untreated can kill you. They are difficult to detect, but a pap will at least tell your physician something is wrong and to look into to it further

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:46 PM

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For me, annual physicals are worth it- But then I make a point to talk to my doctor and ask him specific questions- my last checkup took an hour. Even better, it took an hour and never once did he look at his watch or try to dismiss me.

Because I have high blood pressure (genetic! thanks mom and dad!), we spend time discussing BP management strategies as well as more general stuff like preventing sports-related injuries and stress management.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:47 PM

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The value of the annual physical and its contents have been debated for years. The important issue of an annual exam is not its defined content but the relationship one establishes with a personal physician. The history which identifies risk factors, life styles, and early symptoms then direct behavioral changes that can only be accomplished by trust and respect for advice. The personal physician patient relationship is the key to early detection and compliance for management. Yes impersonal annual exams have questionable value if they don’t achieve that trust voice.

There is no replacement for quality time with your doctor.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:50 PM

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I wish I could find a primary care doctor who would do these nice things I hear others speak of. In my adult life, I haven't seen it. The last time I was pressured by family into doing a so-called physical, I had to sign and return an agreement in advance agreeing that any known conditions were not to be discussed. This seems to be justified on the basis that the service being procured is preventive care, and therefore care for a condition known to exist would be fraudulent.
Although I have health insurance that is mostly employer-paid (I cannot get cash instead by declining it), I'm thinking seriously of trying to go to self-pay for primary care to see if I can get some that's actually worth having. I'd have to find a doctor who has no contract with my employer's plan or claims administrator, since those contracts generally forbid the provider to do this. We're already doing this for certain other services to the extent of about $5000 a year out of pocket to get services that are 100% covered when delivered by their contracted insurance mill providers in the manner that the outsourced benefits administrator has contracted for - but we think we are better off without them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:15 PM

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Nothing that I've ever had done at a "physical" would indicate I had a deeper problem such as cancer. They didn't even draw blood. Perhaps the only thing they could have dectected would have been high blood pressure and blood pressure is something they check at all other visits anyway. I think they are SUCH a waste of time. And pap tests are only 45% accurate and do not detect ovarian or uterine cancer, only cervical cancer - which, if this statistic is true would mean it's only dectected 55% of the time. Not very good odds.

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:38 PM

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