The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF or Task Force) has released its “Eighth Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services.”
In 2018, the USPSTF continued to fulfill its mission of improving the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screening tests, counseling about healthy behaviors, and preventive medications. These recommendations help clinicians and their patients make informed health care decisions.
In this annual report, the USPSTF highlights seven recent topics related to cancer prevention and cardiovascular health, the leading causes of death among adults in the United States, for which more research is needed. The report also calls for more research in populations who are disproportionally affected by these conditions, yet often underrepresented in studies. Future research in these areas can help fill these gaps and could result in important new recommendations that will help to improve the health of Americans.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF or Task Force) is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention, primary care, and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force makes evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services to improve the health of all Americans. The Task Force comprehensively assesses the potential benefits and harms of preventive services, including screening tests, behavioral counseling, and preventive medications.
The USPSTF is charged by Congress to provide an annual report that identifies gaps in the scientific evidence base and recommends areas for future research. In some cases, clinical preventive services have been well studied for the general population, but there are important evidence gaps that prevent the USPSTF from making recommendations for specific populations and age groups. In each annual Report to Congress, the Task Force calls for more research in those areas where evidence for specific populations or age groups is lacking.
This is the eighth annual report, which covers 2017 to 2018.
Clinical Preventive Services Where More Research Is Needed
The USPSTF has identified seven high-priority recent research gaps related to cancer prevention and cardiovascular health where more research is needed.
- Screening for Cervical Cancer, Especially Among Diverse Populations
- Screening for Prostate Cancer, Especially Among African American Men and Men With a Family History
- Screening and Behavioral Counseling for Skin Cancer
- Screening for Atrial Fibrillation With Electrocardiography
- Screening for Cardiovascular Disease Risk With Electrocardiography
- Risk Assessment for Cardiovascular Disease With Nontraditional Risk Factors
- Screening for Peripheral Artery Disease and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment With the Ankle-Brachial Index
Examples of research needed within these topics include: how providing preventive services affects health outcomes; identifying tools that can accurately assess people’s risk for a specific disease; and the effectiveness of treatments for people who are found to have a disease through screening. Future research in these areas can help fill these gaps and may result in important new recommendations that will help to improve the health of Americans.
The USPSTF hopes that identifying evidence gaps and highlighting them as priority areas for research will inspire public and private researchers to collaborate and target their efforts to generate new knowledge and address important health priorities.
Current as of: November 2018
Internet Citation: Eighth Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. November 2018.