Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Churchin’ Up

"You get wise! You go to church!"

You may have seen advertisements in your local paper (do you still get one of those?) or in your [junk] mail offering you health screening tests at discount prices.

  • No doctor’s order necessary!
  • Submit to all five tests  and get discount pricing!

You can take the handy-dandy results issued from these purveyors and head right over to your local doc’s office to discuss any findings. These companies want to help you (and your doctor), after all.

In their promotional materials and on their websites, these for-profit outfits offer testimonials from happy customers that screening tests “saved their lives.”

What you won’t hear from the companies is that the best medical evidence that we have would caution patients AGAINST having these tests–because the science says they don’t save lives and aren’t indicated for people in the general population. In aggregate, tests like these cause MORE HARM than GOOD.

The companies also won’t tell you that if you have one of these tests and it’s not totally normal that you’ll now be subject to repeat testing (presumably by your real doctor inside the medical system) ad nauseum and untold anxiety that you’re slightly less than perfect. That’s an example of HARM.

What I find particularly galling about these companies is that they target lambs er, people where they are most vulnerable: at their places of worship.

Who, after all, would question the well-intentioned offering of preventive health screenings (albeit for profit-making fees) at church?

Seems like a win-win: Your clergy person thinks s/he is doing a mitzvah offering a resource to the community. The doctors in the congregation, loathe to upset the apple cart, would never want to dissuade their brethren from taking health seriously. [That, and they may have some financial interest in such an arrangement.] The congregants get “health” without having to go their doctor.

Convenience. For a price.

You can read a more scholarly discussion of this phenomenon here [local paper! I still get one!]. Then the ripple rolls out a little further.

Please comment or email here if you’ve had screenings from one of these companies or worked for one. I’d love to know about your experiences.



  1. denise

    I had a screening about 4 years ago. I was solicited by the outfit offering screenings for arterial disease (ABI measurements), Aortic aneurysm, osteoporosis, cholesterol levels. I did it because my Dad had an AAA and I had the understanding that it might be hereditary. I declined oseteoporosis and cholesterol tests. I have since learned that these outfits do more harm than good and “scare” up customers. There needs to be much more warnings given to the general public about these screenings. I succumbed and I’m an experienced nurse.

  2. attorney

    There is a redundant “and” in this sentence:The appellate held that she was entitled to relief, and and that she did not have to hand over her computer.

    • glasshospital

      Not sure I’m following you there. Some kind of spam that’s gotten thru?

      • Marlien

        Your post captures the issue perfectly!

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