Is screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm bad for your health and well-being?

ANZ J Surg. 2004 Dec;74(12):1069-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-1433.2004.03270.x.


Background: The purpose of the present paper was to investigate whether screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) causes health-related quality of life to change in men or their partners.

Methods: A cross-sectional case-control comparison was undertaken of men aged 65-83 years living in Perth, Western Australia, using questionnaires incorporating three validated instruments (Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36, EuroQol EQ-5D and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) as well as several independent questions about quality of life. The 2009 men who attended for ultrasound scans of the abdominal aorta completed a short prescreening questionnaire about their perception of their general health. Four hundred and ninety-eight men (157 with an AAA and 341 with a normal aorta) were sent two questionnaires for completion 12 months after screening, one for themselves and one for their partner, each being about the quality of life of the respondent.

Results: Men with an AAA were more limited in performing physical activities than those with a normal aorta (t-test of means P = 0.04). After screening, men with an AAA were significantly less likely to have current pain or discomfort than those with a normal aorta (multivariate odds ratio: 0.5; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.3-0.9) and reported fewer visits to their doctor. The mean level of self-perceived general health increased for all men from before to after screening (from 63.4 to 65.4).

Conclusions: Apart from physical functioning, screening was not associated with decreases in health and well-being. A high proportion of men rated their health over the year after screening as being either the same or improved, regardless of whether or not they were found to have an AAA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Ultrasonography