Attitudes of Japanese Primary Care Physicians toward Publicly Endorsed Periodic Health Examinations: a Cross Sectional Survey


Background: Despite the lack of evidence for efficacy, an annual health examination has been advocated forthe general population by the Japanese government. We conducted a cross-sectional survey to understand theattitudes of Japanese physicians toward the annual examinations.
Methods: In October 2003, a questionnairewas mailed to 1971 physicians registered with Aichi Prefecture Medical Association as internists. The surveywas designed to determine their opinions about the effectiveness of the periodic health examination and each ofits components.
Results: The response rate was 37%. Eighty-five percent believed that a periodic healthexamination was effective. Nearly 80% believed that height and weight should be measured, and more than90% supported blood pressure measurements. Nearly 70% supported a physical examination of chest andabdomen. About half believed that vision and hearing tests should be performed for all ages. More than 90%considered performing a variety of laboratory tests valuable. Three-quarters supported hepatitis B surfaceantigen and hepatitis C antibody determinations. Seventy to eighty percent valued the screening tests for lung,stomach, colon, breast and cervical cancer.
Conclusions: Most Japanese primary care physicians believe that acomprehensive annual health examination as currently endorsed by public health authorities is effective.