The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Created in 1984, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF or Task Force) is an independent group 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 such as:
- Behavioral counseling
- Preventive medications
The Task Force makes recommendations to help primary care clinicians and patients make informed health care decisions. The Task Force’s recommendations only address services offered in the primary care setting or services referred by a primary care clinician. Furthermore, they apply only to people who have no recognized signs or symptoms of the disease or condition.
A 16-Member Volunteer Panel
The Task Force is made up of 16 volunteer members who serve 4-year terms and is led by a chair and two vice chairs. Members are experts in the fields of preventive medicine and primary care, including internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics/gynecology, and nursing. Members must have no substantial conflicts of interest that could impair the scientific integrity of the work of the Task Force. A list of current Task Force members, including a link to biographical information, can be found on the USPSTF Web site.
The Task Force makes recommendations based on a rigorous review of existing peer-reviewed evidence. It does not conduct the research studies; it reviews and assesses the research. The Task Force assigns each recommendation a letter grade (an A, B, C, or D grade or an I statement) based on the strength of the evidence and on the balance of benefits and harms of the preventive service. The Task Force does not consider the costs of a preventive service when determining a recommendation grade.
Recommendations cover more than 80 preventive service topics for people across the lifespan—from vision screening in young children, to heart disease prevention in adults, to colorectal cancer screening in older adults. The Task Force keeps recommendations as current as possible by routinely updating existing recommendations and developing new recommendations.
Input From External Experts and Stakeholders
For each topic, the Task Force collaborates with and seeks input from experts, specialists, stakeholders, and patients repeatedly throughout the recommendation process, including the public comment periods for all draft materials. External input ensures that final recommendations are relevant and useful to health professionals, patients, and family members. The Task Force also works with many partners and stakeholders to disseminate the recommendations.
Internet Citation: USPSTF Overview. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. July 2018.