Offering health tests and consultations in primary care settings can be cost-effective and may help in the fight against cardiovascular diseases, according to a randomized trial published in the August issue of Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.
The findings are the result of the Ebeltoft Health Promotion Project (EHPP) five-year trial conducted by Torsten Lauritzen, MD, and colleagues from the department of general practice at the Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus in Denmark.
More than 2,000 participants based in Ebeltoft, Denmark, aged 30 to 49 years old, were invited to take part in the trial, of which 85 percent enrolled. The general practitioners invited the population to take part in a random allocation to one of three groups.
Researchers said that an intervention group completed questionnaires, a broad health test with written advice, followed by a normal 10-15 minute consultation on demand, and a planned 45-minute patient-centered consultation.
Lauritzen and colleagues reported that a key finding of the five-year follow up was that patients participating in health tests and consultations demonstrated lower risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases: 19 percent in the control group had elevated risk factors, compared to 10 percent in the two intervention groups.
The impact of testing was also found to be cost effective, according to the investigators. The overall number of contacts to the healthcare system was not increased, and as such significantly better life expectancy was found without extra direct and total costs.
Participants also reported an overall positive perception from having health tests and consultations, the authors wrote.
The researchers concluded that their results demonstrate that the current skepticism towards screening and health testing among certain professional groups internationally is not supported.
“There has been a lot of doubt within the international community that there are health outcomes of health tests and patient-centered consultations within primary care,” said Lauritzen. “Such findings suggest that clinicians and policy makers should now consider implementing health tests and consultations more widely.”