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Fam Pract. 2005 Jun;22(3):242-8. Epub 2005 Apr 6.

Effect of preventive health screening on long-term primary health care utilization. A randomized controlled trial.

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Department and Research Unit of General Practice, University of Aarhus, 8000 C Aarhus, Denmark.



Regular preventive health screenings are a feature of primary health care in several countries. Studies of the effect of regular preventive health checks have reported different results regarding primary health care utilization.


To analyse the effect of preventive health screening and health discussions on contacts to general practice.


A randomized controlled trial with all GPs in the district of Ebeltoft, Denmark. All middle-aged residents registered with a GP in the district of Ebeltoft were included (n = 3464). A random sample of 2030 subjects was selected for invitation to participate in health screening or health screening and discussions. The remaining 1434 subjects were never contacted and served as an external control group. Main outcome measure was number of daytime consultations in general practice.


The annual rate ratios for daytime consultations showed a very clear time trend (P < 0.0001) with a high rate of contacts among invited compared with non-invited subjects during the first year (P = 0.001) followed by a gradual decrease to a lower level after eight years (P = 0.037). The total rate ratio for daytime consultations was 1.01 (95% CI 0.93 to 1.10).


We observed no differences between the invited group and the non-invited group in any type of contact to general practice when the entire follow-up period was considered. There was a significant trend in rate ratios for daytime consultations with an initial rise followed by a gradual decrease in rate ratios. More investigations are needed to confirm and explore reasons for this trend.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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