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:
- Counseling services
- Preventive medications
These recommendations apply only to people who have no signs or symptoms of the specific disease or condition that the screening, counseling, or preventive medication targets. Recommendations address only services offered in the primary care setting or services referred by a primary care clinician. The Task Force makes recommendations to help primary care clinicians and patients decide together whether a preventive service is right for a patient's needs.
Since 1998, through acts of the U.S. Congress, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has been authorized to convene the Task Force and to provide ongoing scientific, administrative, and dissemination support to the Task Force.
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 come from the fields of preventive medicine and primary care, including internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics/gynecology, and nursing. Members are appointed by the Director of AHRQ. 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, is found on the members page of 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. More information on Task Force recommendation grades can be found on the grade page of the USPSTF Web site. A list of all current USPSTF recommendations can be found on the A-Z topic guide page. Materials on individual topic pages can include the evidence report, the full draft or final recommendation statement, topic fact sheets, tables, and other visual elements.
On the Web
On the Task Force Web site, people can:
- View all current USPSTF recommendations and supporting materials
- Learn more about the Task Force's methods and processes
- Nominate a new USPSTF member or a topic for consideration by the Task Force
- Provide input on specific draft materials during public comment periods
- Sign up for the USPSTF listserv to receive USPSTF updates
- Access the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS), a quick hands-on tool designed to help primary care clinicians and health care teams identify, prioritize, and offer the preventive services that are appropriate for their patients; available on the Web or as a mobile phone or PDA application
- Access MyHealthFinder, a tool for consumers that provides personalized recommendations for preventive services based on the USPSTF; the Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
Internet Citation: USPSTF Overview. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. February 2017.