The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF or Task Force) has released its “Seventh Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services.”
In 2017, 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 identified evidence gaps related to five recent topics for which the current evidence was insufficient for the Task Force to make a recommendation, including screening for celiac disease and screening for obstructive sleep apnea. The USPSTF also identified evidence gaps that prevent it from making recommendations for specific racial/ethnic populations and age groups. These gaps include screening for prostate cancer in African American men and screening for illicit drug use in children and adolescents. 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 and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force makes evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services to improve the health of all Americans (e.g., by improving quality of life and prolonging life). The Task Force comprehensively assesses evidence and makes recommendations about the effectiveness of screening tests, counseling about healthful behaviors, and preventive medications for infants, children, adolescents, adults, older adults, and pregnant women.
The USPSTF is charged by Congress to provide an annual report that identifies the gaps in the scientific evidence base and recommends areas for future research.
In this seventh annual report, the USPSTF calls attention to five clinical preventive services for which the Task Force found that the current evidence was insufficient to make a recommendation in 2016 to 2017 (also known as “I statements”). These include gaps in research on the effectiveness of preventive services for specific age groups; how providing preventive services affects health outcomes; identifying tools to assess people’s risk for a specific disease; understanding the cause or progression of a disease that might be prevented; 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.
Clinical Preventive Services Where More Research Is Needed:
- Screening for Celiac Disease
- Screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults
- Screening for Gynecologic Conditions With Pelvic Examination
- Vision Screening in Children Younger Than Age 3 Years
- Statin Use for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Adults Age 76 Years and Older
Evidence Gaps Relating to Specific Populations:
While the Task Force’s recommendations are for all Americans, there is not always evidence available for every population or community. Congress requests that the USPSTF identify evidence gaps that prevent it from making recommendations for specific populations or age groups. In this report, the USPSTF has highlighted the following four key evidence gaps.
- Screening for Breast Cancer in African American Women
- Screening for Prostate Cancer in African American Men
- Screening for Illicit Drug Use in Children and Adolescents
- Screening for Hearing Loss in Older Adults
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: December 2017
Internet Citation: Seventh Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. November 2018.