A Controlled Trial of Multiphasic Screening

Donna M. Olsen, Robert L. Kane, Paul H. Proctor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


A clinical controlled trial was designed to determine the impact of Automated Multiphasic Health Testing on morbidity and attitudes. Three strata comprising 574 families (lower-income group enrolled in health maintenance organization, lower-income not enrolled in such a project, and a middle-income group employed by a utility company) were interviewed to obtain information on utilization, morbidity, health status, and attitudes. Sixty per cent of adults in each stratum were then screened. All families were interviewed again one year later. The only significant difference found between screened and non-screened subjects was an increase in nights hospitalized for screened subjects. Physicians were interviewed to determine what abnormalities were found and what treatment was required for project and privately referred patients of these physicians. Previously unknown abnormalities prompted retesting for confirmation in only 28 per cent of the cases and even less often led to treatment (15 per cent). (N Engl J Med 294:925–930, 1976) Multiphasic screening has advanced technically to the point that many laboratory tests can be performed quickly and at a relatively low unit cost. As a result, automated multiphasic health testing has been proposed as an efficient means of triaging patients with nonacute conditions.1 However, many questions about its usefulness and applicability remain unanswered. Concern has been expressed about its effect on the individual patient, as well as the burdens that it imposes on society as a whole, particularly those of the costs of the initial investment and of follow-up diagnostic and treatment work.2 Although the cost per patient may be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-930
Number of pages6
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 22 1976


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