One in ten people in the Netherlands have used private health checks such as the Total Bodyscan that are not offered through the regular healthcare system.
The health minister commissioned research into the use of non-standard tests to see if they were adding to pressure on healthcare providers.
The Total Bodyscan, which is banned in the Netherlands but legal in other countries including Germany, sends a coloured fluid through the bloodstream to pick up any aberrations. The test is controversial because some patients refer themselves to consultants on the basis of their test results, the cost of which has to be covered by insurers.
Out of more than 1,300 people who filled in a survey on commercial medical tests, the majority said they had either already gone for a scan or would consider doing so. One in four of those who had been scanned were encouraged to do so by their employer.
Two-thirds of people who went for scans did not involve their family doctor in the process at all, while 29% showed their results to their doctor. In one-third of cases the results gave them cause to worry about their health. Overall 13% of scans led to some kind of medical treatment.
One in six people submitted themselves for a scan because they had a history of serious illness in the family. Researchers said they wanted to find out why these people decided not to contact their doctor in the first instance.
The Total Bodyscan is not permitted in the Netherlands because a small number of participants have suffered an adverse reaction to the chemicals used in the process.