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FOR SOME physicians, the term effective prevention still may be little more than a puzzling oxymoron.
The long-term benefits of preventive services such as childhood immunizations are no secret. But the issue becomes clouded when more controversial procedures such as prostate cancer screening or mammography between the ages of 40 and 50 years enter the clinical picture.
"It's a large gray area," acknowledges Edward Wagner, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Health Studies at Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound in Seattle, Wash.
Even so, Wagner and other proponents of population-based medicine say its success hinges on the widespread provision of preventive services that have scientific data to back up their efficacy. The question nagging at many physicians, however, is how to bring a little more black and white to some of the gray areas.
By the end of this year, the US Preventive Services Task Force hopes to
Voelker R. Updated Guidelines Address 'Hot Topics'. JAMA. 1994;271(17):1302. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510410014005