Section 9. Engagement With the Public, Stakeholders, and Partners
The Task Force is committed to making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services that are valid, reliable, and useful to clinicians, patients, and family members. The Task Force is also committed to making the recommendation development process clear and transparent, and there are several opportunities for the public and other stakeholders to engage in the recommendation process.
9.1 Engagement With the Public
The Task Force engages with the public in many steps throughout its recommendation making process. Currently, through the Task Force Web site, anyone can:
- Nominate new members to serve on the Task Force
- Nominate new topics for Task Force consideration or request an update of an existing topic
- Provide comments on draft research plans
- Provide comments on draft evidence reviews
- Provide comments on draft recommendation statements
Anyone who is interested in the Task Force's work can sign up for email alerts on the USPSTF Web site.
9.2 Engagement With Liaisons and Partners
Since its inception, the Task Force has worked with a group of standing Federal liaisons and Dissemination and Implementation Partners.
Federal liaisons provide input from national scientific experts and keep the Task Force apprised of major Federal initiatives that may produce new evidence or duplicate the Task Force's efforts on a given topic. In the case of a potential duplication of effort, the Task Force may choose to refer the recommendation topic to another group.
Dissemination and Implementation Partners are major national organizations representing primary care clinicians, consumers, and other stakeholders involved in the delivery of primary care. They help the Task Force to ensure that its recommendations are meaningful to the groups they represent and help put the recommendations into practice. They are also a powerful vehicle for ensuring that America's primary care workforce remains up to date on Task Force recommendations.
Both Federal liaisons and Dissemination and Implementation Partners are invited to observe Task Force meetings. Engagement with partners also includes email updates, Webinars, and opportunities for public comment and dissemination. Partner organizations may choose to promote opportunities for public comment among their membership and assist their members with the implementation of final recommendation statements.
9.3 Participation in the USPSTF Member and Topic Nomination and Recommendation Processes
Members of the public can participate in the USPSTF process by nominating new members to the Task Force. The USPSTF Web site has a page where anyone can nominate candidates for consideration or self-nominate. Nominations must be received by May 15 of a given year to be considered for an appointment that will begin in January of the following year.
Members of the public can also participate in the recommendation process itself. The Task Force provides opportunities for public comment at four stages of the recommendation process:
- Topic nomination
- Draft research plan
- Draft evidence review
- Draft recommendation statement
Anyone can nominate a new topic at any time. Public comment periods for draft research plans, evidence reviews, and recommendation statements last for 4 weeks on the USPSTF Web site. The public comment period helps to ensure that final recommendations are valid, reliable, and useful to clinicians, patients, and family members.
9.4 Dissemination of USPSTF Recommendations and Processes
The Task Force disseminates its research plans, methods, evidence reviews, and recommendation statements through its Web site. Different dissemination activities, described below, are conducted for researchers; clinicians; members of the public, including consumers and patients; and the media.
All Task Force research plans, evidence reviews, and recommendation statements are posted on the USPSTF Web site. Task Force final evidence reviews and final recommendation statements are also published in peer-reviewed journals. Journal articles are sometimes accompanied by videos summarizing their key "take home messages." Further details about Task Force procedures for writing papers and documents are available in Section 1.10.
Health care professionals have access to the full library of Task Force recommendations and evidence reviews on the USPSTF Web site.
The Task Force also shares its recommendations through ePSS, an application for smartphone, mobile, and tablet devices designed to help primary care clinicians identify clinical preventive services that are appropriate for their patients. Users can search the tool for recommendations by patient age, sex, pregnancy status, and risk factors. ePSS is available at http://epss.ahrq.gov/PDA.
Additionally, to help primary care clinicians learn about its recommendations and put them into practice, the Task Force has posted resources about its role in preventive medicine and its process for developing evidence-based recommendations. These resources are available at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/task-force-resources.
9.4.3 The Public
In 2012, the Task Force began producing plain-language consumer fact sheets for each of its draft and final recommendations to help members of the public, including consumers and patients, understand what each recommendation means for them.
The consumer fact sheets, posted on the USPSTF Web site, contain links to resources for learning more about each topic and encourage individuals to have informed discussions about clinical preventive services with their health care provider.
In addition to breaking down the main points of each recommendation, consumer fact sheets for draft recommendation statements explain how to offer feedback to the Task Force about the draft recommendation statement.
Further, in response to common questions posed to the USPSTF, the Task Force produced a series of materials explaining its mission, composition, and processes, including an introductory slide show called "USPSTF 101," available to view and download at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/task-force-resources.
Finally, the Task Force engages with the public through MyHealthFinder, a mobile and Web-based application similar to the ePSS and geared to a consumer audience. Users may search Task Force recommendations by sex, age, pregnancy status, and risk factors at http://healthfinder.gov. The application also incorporates recommendations from ACIP, Bright Futures, and the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Preventive Services for Women.
9.4.4 The Media
The Task Force engages with the media in several ways to disseminate information about research plans, evidence reviews, and draft and final recommendation statements. These include news bulletins, release of materials under embargo in advance of publication, and interviews with Task Force members.
News bulletins are developed for each draft and final recommendation statement. The purpose of news bulletins is to organize key information about a Task Force recommendation for the media. The news bulletin may include a summary of the recommendation and supporting science as well as quotes from a Task Force spokesperson. News bulletins are intended to streamline the release of information concerning the Task Force's work. The USPSTF Web site also has a Newsroom page (www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/newsroom) to provide reporters with background information on the Task Force and media contact information.
Internet Citation: Section 9. Engagement With the Public, Stakeholders, and Partners. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. July 2017.