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BMC Health Serv Res. 2012 May 30;12:137. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-12-137.

The diagnostic yield of the first episode of a periodic health evaluation: a descriptive epidemiology study.

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  • 1Division of Preventive Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.



The benefits of a periodic health evaluation remain debatable. The incremental value added by such evaluations beyond the delivery of age appropriate screening and preventive medicine recommendations is unclear.


We retrospectively collected data on a cohort of consecutive patients presenting for their first episode of a comprehensive periodic health evaluation. We abstracted data on new diagnoses that were identified during this single episode of care and that were not trivial (i.e., required additional testing or intervention).


The cohort consisted of 491 patients. The rate of new diagnoses per this single episode of care was 0.9 diagnoses per patient. The majority of these diagnoses was not prompted by patients' complaints (71%) and would not have been identified by screening guidelines (51%). Men (odds ratio 2.67; 95% CI, 1.76, 4.03) and those with multiple complaints at presentation (odds ratio 1.12; 95% CI, 1.05, 1.19) were more likely to receive a clinically relevant diagnosis at the conclusion of the visit. Age was not a predictor of receiving a diagnosis in this cohort.


The first episode of a comprehensive periodic health evaluation may reveal numerous important diagnoses or risk factors that are not always identified through routine screening.

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