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Systematic review and meta-analysis
Normal diagnostic test results do not reassure patients
  1. Keith J Petrie,
  2. Rebekah Sherriff
  1. Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Keith J Petrie, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1004, New Zealand; kj.petrie{at}

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Physicians often send patients for diagnostic testing with the belief or hope that the patient will be reassured by a normal test result.


In this well-done systematic review meta-analysis, Rolfe and colleagues searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of patient populations with clinical features that indicated they were unlikely to have a serious disease. The studies selected each had a group of patients randomised for diagnostic testing and a group that was not tested during the study. The outcome measure was patients’ reassurance, which included illness concern, anxiety, change in the original symptoms and subsequent doctor visits. The search strategy was targeted towards initial diagnostic tests in primary or secondary care for …

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  • Competing interests None.