The authors of an article published in Annals of Internal Medicine say that arguments against routine physical exams are based on insufficient evidence from an outdated review. They suggest that some patients, especially those in vulnerable or high risk groups, could benefit from routine visits.
The authors support their position with newer evidence from a systematic review published in Annals of Internal Medicine that examined 33 studies of periodic health evaluations that consisted "only of the history, risk assessment, and a tailored physical examination."
The evidence showed that the periodic health exam improved delivery of some recommended preventive services and may lessen patient worry. In their personal experience, such visits have led to new diagnoses of melanoma, colon and breast cancer, alcohol abuse, opiate addiction, and depression - diagnoses that would otherwise have been delayed or missed. The authors suggest that this evidence justifies implementation of the periodic health exam in clinical practice.