“General health checks do not improve important outcomes and are unlikely to ever do so based on the pooled results of this meta-analysis spanning decades of experience,” write authors Allan Prochazka and Tanner Caverly. ”There remains a belief in the value of general health checks despite the accumulating evidence. This belief is buoyed by screening advocacy groups and insurance coverage, and they have ramifications for patient welfare and health care costs.”

Prochazka and Caverly are the first to admit that their findings aren’t exactly groundbreaking: Due to the lack of benefits, Canadian guidelines have recommended against general check-ups since 1979. The rationale there is that these visits can do more harm to the patient – and the larger health care system – then good.