14 December 2017

However, health checks have little to no impact on behavior or health care use. Dutch users of health checks report positive experiences. Health checks are mainly used for reassurance and rarely have an impact on behavior or healthcare use. Users are not critical towards the health checks or their results. Wieteke van Dijk and colleagues of the Celsus academy (theme Healthcare improvement science) studied the experiences with health checks in a qualitative study.

The supply of health checks in Dutch healthcare seems to be growing. However, there is hardly anything known about experiences with health checks. Therefore, the Celsus academy performed a study among health checks users. Respondents were approached trough the Nivel care consumers panel.
A health check is defined as a non-indicated health test. Health checks users do not always understand this difference between an indicated and non-indicated medical test. A fair share of the users sought a health check to find an explanation for complaints like tiredness or dizziness. Others took up a free offer from their employer or health insurer.
Experiences with health checks were for the larger part positive. The results rarely gave reason to consult a GP or specialist and were reassuring for users. There was no impact on lifestyle. The majority of users did not reflect critically on the test or its results. When asked about the reliability of the tests, users directly focused on the reliability of the test provider. In this sample this was most often the GP, who was highly trusted by the respondents.
Current user experiences with health checks seem positive and quite harmless. However, this study also revealed that users are unaware of possible downsides of the tests, such as false positive or negative results.

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