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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF or Task Force) has released its “Second Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services.”
In 2012, the USPSTF continued to fulfill its mission of improving the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services, including screening tests, counseling about healthful behaviors, and preventive medications. These recommendations help primary care clinicians and patients to decide together whether a preventive service is right for each patient's needs.
In this report, the Task Force highlights six high-priority evidence gaps that deserve further examination, and if filled are likely to result in important new recommendations. The Task Force hopes that by annually highlighting high-priority evidence gaps, as requested by Congress, it will assist public and private researchers and research funders in targeting their efforts, ensuring a collaborative approach to improving preventive health and health care for all Americans.
The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services and health promotion. The Task Force comprehensively assesses evidence and makes recommendations about the effectiveness of screening tests, counseling about healthful behaviors, and preventive medications for children, adolescents, adults, older adults, and pregnant women.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 charges the USPSTF with making an annual report to Congress that identifies gaps in the evidence base and recommends priority areas that deserve further examination. In its First Annual Report to Congress, the Task Force identified four screening tests and three behavioral interventions with significant evidence gaps deserving further research. Given the expected pace of research, one year is too soon to expect that these gaps would have been addressed. The Task Force, therefore, encourages Congress to continue promoting research to address these gaps.
In this annual report, its second, the USPSTF has identified specific topics from its past year of work as having important evidence gaps that may be addressed through research. More research in these areas would likely result in important new recommendations that will help to improve the health of Americans.
Clinical Preventive Services That Deserve Further Research:
- Screening for chronic kidney disease.
- Screening for cervical cancer with human papillomavirus (HPV) tests.
- Screening for prostate cancer.
In the Affordable Care Act, Congress also requested that the USPSTF identify evidence gaps that prevent it from making recommendations for specific populations or age groups. In this report, the USPSTF highlights three key areas.
Evidence Gaps Relating to Specific Populations and Age Groups That Deserve Further Research:
- Screening for chronic kidney disease in African American adults.
- Screening for prostate cancer in African American men.
- Counseling about sun-protective behaviors in families with children under age 10 to reduce the risk for skin cancer.
The USPSTF will continue to independently evaluate the evidence on clinical preventive services to empower health care professionals, health care systems, and the American people to make informed decisions about their health and health care.
The USPSTF believes that by identifying these evidence gaps and prioritizing these areas for research, it will inspire public and private researchers to collaborate and target their efforts to generate new knowledge and fill current evidence gaps.
Current as of November 2012
Second Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services. November 2012. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/annlrpt2/index.html