The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), created in 1984, is a group of 16 national experts in preventive and evidence-based medicine.
Preventive medicine focuses on preventing disease and disability before they happen rather than treating them afterward. Evidence-based medicine refers to the practice of medicine based on information (evidence) gathered from well-conducted research studies. The members of the USPSTF have expertise in the fields of internal medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, behavioral health, and nursing.
The goal of the USPSTF is to improve the health of everyone in the United States by making specific evidence-based recommendations in preventive medicine. These recommendations can be about 3 types of services: screening tests, counseling services, and preventive medications. The recommendations apply only to people who are generally well and have no obvious signs or symptoms of the particular disease or condition that the preventive or screening service is meant to prevent. The recommendations are meant to serve as a guide for primary care clinicians and patients to decide whether a patient would benefit from a preventive service.
The USPSTF recommendations are developed using a very rigorous and systematic process and are based on the most current evidence from the scientific literature. The task force does not conduct its own research. Recommendations are updated every 5 years on an as-needed basis when important new evidence arises.
Each recommendation statement contains information about
Whether a preventive service is recommended
The specific population that the recommendation applies to (eg, women vs men, specific age groups)
The potential benefits and harms of providing the service
A letter grade that reflects both the strength of the evidence and the magnitude of the net benefit (A, B, C, D, or I)
All USPSTF recommendations can be found on the USPSTF website and are also published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Other groups besides the USPSTF also make recommendations about preventive services. Often, the recommendations of the USPSTF and other groups are very similar, but occasionally they differ. All USPSTF recommendations include a section that discusses the recommendations of other groups.
As a patient, you and your doctor should discuss your individual health risks and values in deciding whether a preventive service is right for you.
US Preventive Services Task Forcewww.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/
USPSTF grade definitionswww.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/page/name/grade-definitions
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA’s website at www.jama.com. Spanish translations are available in the supplemental content tab.
Source: US Preventive Services Task Force
Topic: Preventive Medicine
Jin J. The US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2016;315(16):1804. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2663