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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force


Questions


The USPSTF wants to provide information that helps improve primary care practice. If you have further questions about the USPSTF after reviewing the Web site, you can use the form below to submit a question.

Please note that we cannot diagnose or treat any personal health condition, nor can we provide medical advice about any individual situation. We encourage individuals to seek health and medical advice from their personal health care providers.


Questions/Answers currently under review

Question
What kinds of topics are included in U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations?

Answer
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) develops recommendations for clinical preventive services, including screening tests, counseling, and preventive medications. Examples are screening for colorectal cancer or high blood pressure, counseling to promote a healthy diet, and preventive medicines for breast cancer.

Question
What process is used to decide which topics are reviewed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)?

Answer
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) aims to keep its recommendations up to date, meaning that each topic should be re-reviewed every 5 years. For the consideration of new topics, AHRQ solicits nominations every 2 years for topics through an open process announced in the Federal Register, an official Government publication for notices from Federal agencies and organizations, and distributed widely to professional organizations.

Primary care and health care organizations, clinicians, and other individuals can nominate topics to be reviewed by USPSTF. The Task Force ranks topics based on criteria such as burden of disease, potential impact of a recommendation by the Task Force, and new scientific evidence. Topics must be relevant to the primary care setting and address primary or secondary prevention.

Question
How does the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) arrive at its recommendations?

Answer
In making its recommendations, the USPSTF assesses:

  • The quality of evidence supporting a specific preventive service.
  • The magnitude of net benefit in providing the service.

Each recommendation is based on a review of the evidence that includes:

  • Creation of an analytic framework and a set of key questions that determine the scope of the literature review.
  • Systematic review of the relevant literature to answer the key questions.
  • Quality ratings of bodies of research literature supporting each key question.
  • Estimation of benefits and harms.
  • Determination of the balance of benefits and harms of the preventive service.

For more information on USPSTFMethods and Background, go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/methods.htm.

Question
Can other health care organizations link to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Web site or specific USPSTF electronic documents on their Web sites?

Answer
Yes, other health organization Web sites can provide a link to content on the Preventive Services Web site. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) publications are federally funded and, therefore, are available to the public. However, such links cannot be displayed in such a way as to imply endorsement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of a commercial service or product.
For additional information on use of content, or to request permission to incorporate USPSTF content in other electronic resources, send an E-mail to: gerri.michael-dyer@ahrq.hhs.gov.

Question
What is the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)?

Answer
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which was convened by the U.S. Public Health Service in 1984 and sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) since 1998, is the leading independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care.

The USPSTF conducts rigorous, impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a broad range of clinical preventive services, including screening, counseling, and preventive medications. Its recommendations are considered the “gold standard” for clinical preventive services.
Go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

Question
Who are the members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)?

Answer
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) consists of experts in primary care, epidemiology, and prevention. Members come from the specialties of family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, geriatrics, preventive medicine, public health, behavioral medicine, and nursing.
For a list of current Task Force members, go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/about.htm.

Question
What is the mission of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)?

Answer
The mission of the USPSTF is three-fold:

  • To evaluate the benefits and harms of specific services for patients based on their age, sex, and risk factors for disease.
  • To make recommendations about which preventive services should be incorporated routinely into primary medical care and for which populations.
  • To identify a research agenda for clinical preventive care.

For more information on the USPSTF, go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/about.htm.

Question
Who nominates U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) members?

Answer
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) solicits nominations for members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) through an open process announced in the Federal Register, an official Government publication for notices from Federal agencies and organizations. Anyone can nominate a candidate for the Task Force. Self-nominations are also accepted. Members of the Task Force are selected based on recognized expertise in prevention, evidence-based medicine, and primary care.

Question
Who uses U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations?

Answer
Primary care clinicians are the principal audience for U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations. Task Force recommendations also have informed recommendations developed by professional societies and the coverage policies of many health plans and insurers. The USPSTF has figured prominently in the development of health care quality measures and national health objectives.

Question
What topics are currently under consideration by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)?

Answer
For a list of Topics in Progress for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/topicsprog.htm.

Question
What does it mean when many U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations are “I” recommendations?

Answer
An “I” recommendation (or “I” statement) means that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has concluded that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routinely providing the service. The conclusion that available evidence is inadequate to assess the net benefits or harms for a population of healthy people does not mean that the balance could not be positive for some patients. The determination of whether or not to offer such a service is ultimately left to the clinician's discretion and shared decisionmaking through discussions with the patient.

Question
How does the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) decide when to update its recommendations?

Answer
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) decides how often recommendations are updated based on the availability of new evidence and other criteria set out by the National Guidelines ClearinghouseTM (NGC). NGC, an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality initiative, is a comprehensive database of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. In keeping with NGC criteria, the USPSTF aims to update topics at least every 5 years.

Question
How does the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) rate its recommendations?

Answer
Each recommendation is linked to a letter grade that reflects the magnitude of net benefit and the strength of the evidence supporting the provision of the specific preventive service. The recommendation is graded from "A" (strongly recommended) to "D" (recommended against). When the evidence is insufficient to determine net benefit, the Task Force assigns a grade of "I."

For more information on the ratings system, go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/3rduspstf/ratings.htm.

Question
What do U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation grades mean in terms of my clinical practice?

Answer
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) assigns grades to recommendations based on the magnitude of the net benefit and the strength of the evidence for a particular service. Suggestions for clinical practice are associated with the grades. These are:

  • Discuss and offer preventive services with "A" and "B" recommendations to eligible patients.
  • Give lower priority to services with "C" recommendations—they need not be done unless there are considerations relating to that specific patient in favor of providing the service.
  • Discourage patients from having services with "D" recommendations.
  • For services with an "I" recommendation, clinicians should carefully read the Clinical Considerations section of the USPSTF recommendation statements for guidance and to help patients understand the uncertainty surrounding these services.

Question
How is the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) informed of new evidence on clinical preventive services?

Answer
The USPSTF is supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs), AHRQ staff, and outside experts. Either an EPC or AHRQ staff produces systematic reviews of the literature relevant to each prevention topic.

For more information about the Evidence-based Practice Centers, go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epc/.

Question
How are U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations different from those of other professional organizations?

Answer
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is a multidisciplinary team of primary care experts that uses a systematic evidence-based approach to focus on preventive services in the clinical setting. The USPSTF specifically bases its recommendation on a balanced look at the benefits and harms of each preventive service.

Question
Are U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations available for personal digital assistant (PDA) download?

Answer
Yes. The USPSTF PDA program, the electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS), is available at: http://www.epss.ahrq.gov
The electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) is a quick hands-on tool designed to help primary care clinicians identify the screening, counseling, and preventive medication services that are appropriate for their patients. The ePSS is available both as a PDA application and a Web-based tool. It is based on all current recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and can be searched by specific patient characteristics, such as age, sex, and select behavioral risk factors.

Question
What is The Guide to Clinical Preventive Service?

Answer
The Guide is a reference for effective clinical preventive services. It includes U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations on screening tests for early detection of diseases, counseling for risk reduction, and preventive medication topics. Clinical considerations are included for each topic. The Guide is updated annually.

To access The Guide online, go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/pocketgd.htm.

Question
What topics are included in The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services?

Answer
Recommendations on all topics reviewed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) from 2001-2005 are included in The Guide. To access the full list, please go to the online version of The Guide at: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/pocketgd.htm

Question
Where can I find the current edition of The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services?

Answer
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) first published The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services in October 2006. The Guide, which is updated annually, is an abridgement of all USPSTF current recommendation statements.

To access the current edition of the Guide online, go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/pocketgd.htm.

Question
How do I order the Guide to Clinical Preventive Services?

Answer
Order copies of the latest edition from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Clearinghouse:

Phone toll-free: 800-358-9295 within the United States
Outside the United States only, call (703) 437-2078
E-mail: ahrqpubs@ahrq.hhs.gov

Customers may receive a single print copy of the Guide to Clinical Preventive Services for free. Additional copies are $5.00 each.

Question
What is Put Prevention Into Practice?

Answer
Put Prevention Into Practice is a program sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to increase the appropriate use of clinical preventive services, such as screening tests, counseling, and preventive medications.

For more information, go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/pppix.htm.

(Duplicate question, but different answer:)
Answer2
PPIP is a component of the AHRQ Prevention Dissemination and Implementation Program, which develops resources to increase the appropriate use of clinical preventive services. Some PPIP resources are designed to make it easier for health care organizations and clinicians to deliver recommended prevention services and to inform employers and health plans of the evidence for prevention. Other resources make it easier for patients to ask about and keep track of their preventive health care. Go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/ppipix.htm.

Question
What is the relationship between Put Prevention Into Practice and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force?

Answer
Put Prevention Into Practice is derived from the evidence-based recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts convened by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ). Put Prevention Into Practice provides the implementation tools and resources for the Task Force recommendations.

Question
Who has used Put Prevention Into Practice?

Answer
Put Prevention Into Practice has been successfully used in national, regional, and local prevention-oriented clinical and education activities. Users include health plans, medical societies, health departments, private practices, and universities.

Question
What does the Put Prevention Into Practice program include?

Answer
Put Prevention Into Practice encompasses a set of tools and resources for health care systems and clinicians, the office/clinic staff, and patients. They enable doctors and other health care providers to determine which services their patients should receive. They provide guidance for establishing an office system to facilitate the delivery of preventive care, and they make it easier for patients to understand and keep track of their preventive care.

Question
How do I implement a system for delivering preventive care?

Answer
Put Prevention Into Practice resources include an implementation guide, which provides a step-by-step approach to integrating Put Prevention Into Practice and the delivery of appropriate clinical preventive services into your clinical setting, beginning with assessing the need for a new system to evaluating the impact of Put Prevention Into Practice. The guide also includes many useful supporting materials, including patient education information.

Question
How do I order Put Prevention Into Practice materials?

Answer
Put Prevention Into Practice (PPIP) materials are available online through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Web site. Go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/ppipix.htm.

You may also order printed materials from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse:

Phone toll-free: 800-358-9295 within the United States
Outside the United States only, call (703) 437-2078
E-mail: ahrqpubs@ahrq.hhs.gov.

An order form is provided at: http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/pporder.htm.

Question
What does the Prevention Dissemination and Implementation program include?

Answer
Prevention Dissemination and Implementation encompasses a set of tools and resources for health care systems and clinicians, office/clinic staff, and patients. These tools and resources help doctors and other health care providers to determine which services should be offered to patients. The resources also provide guidance for establishing an office system to facilitate the delivery of preventive care, and they make it easier for patients to understand and keep track of their preventive care.

Question
What information is available for employers on preventive services to help improve the health of employees?

Answer
The Purchaser's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: Moving Science into Coverage is designed to help employers improve the health of their employees and their families as well as to potentially reduce their health care costs. This guide was developed as a joint project between the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Business Group on Health, a national non-profit organization representing 250 large employers.

The guide contains preventive services recommended as clinically effective by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the CDC. The recommendations included are either evidence-based; address a serious health threat in terms of illness, death, or quality of life, including risk of disability; or address a condition that results in substantial direct or indirect costs for payers.

Access to the Purchaser's Guide is available online to the public at no charge. Go to: http://www.businessgrouphealth.org/prevention/purchasers/

Question
What is ePSS?

Answer
ePSS—the Electronic Preventive Services Selector—is a quick, hands-on tool designed to help primary care clinicians identify and offer the screening, counseling, and preventive medication services that are appropriate for their patients. The ePSS is based on the current, evidence-based recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and can be searched by specific patient characteristics, such as age, sex, and selected behavioral risk factors. Available both as a Web-based selector and as a downloadable PDA application, the ePSS brings the prevention information clinicians need—recommendations, clinical considerations, and selected practice tools—to the point of care.

Go to ePSS at: http://epss.ahrq.gov/

Question
Who should use the ePSS?

Answer
The Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) tool was designed for practicing clinicians (MDs, DOs, RNs, NPs, PAs), although anyone can use it.
ePSS is at: http://epss.ahrq.gov/

Question
How do I download the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) application to my PDA device?

Answer

  • Go to: http:/epss.ahrq.gov.
  • Select Palm® or Windows® Mobile device type by selecting the download link located in the “Download PDA Application” section.
  • Optionally register for E-mail notifications, then select the Download button.
  • Save the ePSS installation package to your desktop.
  • Launch the ePSS installation package from your desktop and follow the InstallShield Wizard instructions.

Question
Where can I find technical assistance for the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS)?

Answer
Users may submit comments, questions, suggestions, or other feedback to: uspstfpda@ahrq.gov.

Question
Where can I find Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) personal digital assistant (PDA) applications?

Answer
To access and download all PDA applications offered by AHRQ and their related Web-based versions, go to: http://pda.ahrq.gov.
To download the electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS), go to: http://www.epss.ahrq.gov.

Question
What system specifications are required to use the ePSS tool?

Answer

  • To use the Web-based Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) application, the user must have a connection to the Internet. The application is available at: http://epss.ahrq.gov.
  • The ePSS tool is available for download for Palm® Handhelds and Windows® Mobile Devices (PocketPC) at:http://.epss.ahrq.gov.

Compatibility testing has been performed for the following devices:

  • Palm® Handheld Devices:
    • Palm® Z22.
    • Palm® TX.
    • Palm® E2.
  • HP iPAQ Devices:
    • HP iPAQ hx2490b.
    • HP iPAQ H4350.
    • HP iPAQ H2200.
  • Other Devices:
    • Dell AXIM-X51V.
    • Dell AXIM-X51V.
    • Sony Clie.

Compatibility testing has been performed for the following operation systems:

  • Palm®OS Compatibility: Palm® OS 3.5 to Palm® OS 5.
  • Windows® Mobile Compatibility: Pocket PC 2003 and Mobile.

The PDA application has the full functionality of the Web-based application, as well as some other features such as scheduled data and system update reminders, E-mail notifications, full mobility without the need for wireless Internet connectivity, and a user friendly interface customized specifically for Palm® OS and Pocket PC 2003.

Windows® Requirements:

  • Windows® XP Service Pack 2.
  • Microsoft® .NET Framework 1.1 or later.
  • Palm® HotSync or Microsoft® ActiveSync®.
  • Microsoft® .NET Framework 1.1 or later.
  • 500 MHz Pentium® class process or better.
  • 256 MB RAM.

Currently, ePSS does not support Macintosh®.

Question
How do I update the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) application on my PDA device?

Answer

  • Run the ePSS update application.
  • PocketPC Users: Select the "AHRQ ePSS for Pocket PC" folder.
  • Palm® Users: Select "AHRQ ePSS for Palm®" folder.

Question
How do I unsubscribe from the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) E-mail notifications?

Answer

  • Go to Unsubscribe (http://epss.ahrq.gov/PDA/unsubscribe.jsp).
  • Enter your E-mail address and select "Unsubscribe."

Question
Can I provide my patient with a printout of recommendations from the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS)?

Answer
Yes, on the Web-based ePSS application, each screen of the application has a printer-friendly function. Please select the ”Print” link for a printer-friendly version.

Question
Is there a cost to use the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) tool?

Answer
There is no cost to use the Web-based ePSS application or to download the application onto a PDA device.

Question
Can I be sure that the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) tool will provide the latest recommendations?

Answer

  • The ePSS application database for both the Web and PDA application is kept current with the latest U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations. The recommendations data are managed and updated periodically by the USPSTF staff.
  • For the PDA application, users can register for ePSS database update alerts. If registered, users will receive E-mail notifications of system and data updates for the ePSS PDA application based on a reminder frequency selected during registration process. When notified, users can perform a HotSync or ActiveSync® to update their device with the latest USPSTF recommendations.
  • Users will also be able to select an update reminder feature on their PC (during installation) that will prompt them to HotSync or ActiveSync® their PDA device on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis to obtain the latest USPSTF recommendations.

Question
Will patients have access to the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS)?

Answer
Anyone can access the ePSS application via the Web or download it to their PDA device.

To access ePSS, go to: http://epss.ahrq.gov.

Question
How do I find information about clinical preventive services?

Answer
To obtain information about clinical preventive services, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Preventive Services Web site. AHRQ supports the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based clinical preventive services. Information available on the AHRQ Preventive Services Web site includes all USPSTF recommendations and information on the AHRQ Prevention Dissemination and Implementation Program.

To access the Preventive Services Web site, go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

Question
How can I receive E-mail updates when a new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation is released?

Answer
You can sign up to receive E-mail updates when a new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) by going to https://subscriptions.ahrq.gov/service/multi_subscribe.html?code=USAHRQ.****To be updated when the new email for govdelivery is provided******

Question
How can I contact the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)?

Answer
Address correspondence to:

Program Office, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)
540 Gaither Road, Suite 6000
Rockville, MD 20850

Current as of July 2010


Internet Citation:

Questions. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. July 2010. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/questions.htm


 


USPSTF Program Office   540 Gaither Road, Rockville, MD 20850