Health MOTs 'do more harm than good', say doctors

They were designed to improve health, treat problems early and provide advice on healthier lifestyles, but according to new research, health 'MOTs' are doing more harm than good.

heath mots do more harm than good

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Doctors at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen studied 14 trials of health check programmes, and found that there was no consistent evidence to say that health was improved or that death rates were reduced.

Free health checks from the NHS were introduced in 2009, allowing anyone between the ages of 40 and 74 to have their blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels checked every five years.

The aim was to give GPs the chance to offer advice on healthier lifestyles and treat pressing problems early.

But doctors now argue that they often result in unnecessary stress or treatment.

In the report, published in the British Medical Journal, the researchers also suggest that the NHS spends more money reassuring the "worried well" than on treating those with potentially serious health issues.

The writers of the report pointed out that "medical interventions" could do more harm than good, citing "overtreatment, distress or injury from invasive follow-up tests, distress due to false positive test results, and false reassurance due to false negative test results" as some of the problems associated with these general health checks.

Suggesting that those who attended the free health MOTs tended to be better off financially and reasonably good health, they concluded: "Thus, systematic health checks may not reach those who need prevention the most.

"Our results do not support the use of general health checks aimed at a general adult population outside the context of randomised trials."

Have you taken advantage of these free health 'MOTs'? Do you believe they are a good or bad idea? Leave your comments below...