Harvard Women's Health Watch

Why regular check-ups are still a good idea

An annual "well woman" visit has important health benefits — especially the doctor-patient relationship it fosters.

For most of the 20th century, the yearly "head-to-toe" physical for adults with no medical complaints was the standard of care, a way to detect disease early and reduce mortality. It typically featured blood tests, urinalysis, and screenings that included a chest x-ray and electrocardiogram. But in the late 1970s, various health groups began to re-evaluate the practice — partly because managed-care organizations wanted to bolster efficiency and reduce costs.

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