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A Piece of My Mind
February 3, 2015

Should C Be a Passing Grade for the USPSTF?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Family Medicine & Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
JAMA. 2015;313(5):465-466. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.17082

I trust the US Preventive Services Task Force to be unbiased and to base its recommendations on the best science available at the time (though this group clearly needs a catchier name). Despite that, I have been forced to conclude that C should, frequently, be a failing grade for the USPSTF. I am referring to issuing recommendations with a C grade. The definition of USPSTF’s C grade, as shown in the Table, has changed substantially over time—far more than for the other grades. Clearly, the USPSTF has been challenged by what to do with cases where there is reasonable evidence indicating at best a small net benefit for most people. So how should clinicians and patients decide what to do about services floating at C-level?

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