Section 1. Background

Implementing U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Recommendati

Presentation describes the methods used by the US Preventive Services Task Force to develop recommendations.



This document was developed as part of an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) initiative to increase the use of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations and resources in campus and community-based health professions educational programs. It is a resource that organizations that are affiliated with academic institutions, such as Area Health Education Centers' (AHECs), can share with community faculty and other educators to promote preventive services training and practice. Using examples of lesson plans and teaching activities from instructors at academic institutions who have successfully integrated the USPSTF recommendations into their curricula, this document provides guidance for AHECs interested in promoting the use of USPSTF recommendations and resources in learning activities.

Target Audience

Faculty and educational administrators who seek to implement USPSTF recommendations in their educational programs can incorporate the case studies provided in this document and reference the resources provided in the appendix for additional tools. AHECs can further facilitate the process through their close working relationship with health professions academic programs. AHECs are well positioned to implement USPSTF recommendations through student clinical training, community faculty development and continuing medical education, especially in rural and underserved communities. Using case examples from institutions that have successfully integrated the USPSTF recommendations into their curricula, this document provides practical strategies for utilizing USPSTF recommendations and tools in learning activities.

This document is organized in three parts:

  • Section One presents the background on the USPSTF and its work.
  • Section Two introduces the AHRQ tools developed from the recommendations and presents case examples of how the USPSTF recommendations have been incorporated in lesson plans and teaching activities.
  • Section Three is an appendix with additional resources.

Each case example provided in Section Two features a brief introduction to a fictional patient with specific characteristics and directions for students to use AHRQ tools to determine preventive care recommendations for the patient.

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Section 1. Background

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force1

The USPSTF was first convened by the U.S. Public Health Service in 1984. Since 1998, the USPSTF has been sponsored by AHRQ. The USPSTF is the leading independent panel of private-sector experts in prevention and primary care. The USPSTF recommendations are based on rigorous, impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a broad range of clinical preventive services, including screening, counseling, and preventive medications. The mission of the USPSTF is to evaluate the benefits of individual services based on age, gender, and risk factors for disease; make recommendations about which preventive services should be incorporated routinely into primary medical care and for which populations; and identify a research agenda for clinical preventive care. Recommendations issued by the USPSTF are intended for use in the primary care setting.

The work of the USPSTF is supported by an Evidence-based Practice Center, which conducts systematic reviews of the evidence on specific topics in clinical prevention that serve as the scientific basis for USPSTF recommendations. The USPSTF reviews the evidence, estimates the magnitude of benefits and harms for each preventive service, reaches consensus about the net benefit for each preventive service, and issues a recommendation. The USPSTF grades the strength of the evidence from "A" (strongly recommends), "B" (recommends), "C" (no recommendation for or against), "D" (recommends against), or "I" (insufficient evidence to recommend for or against).

Current USPSTF members include primary care clinicians such as internists, pediatricians, family physicians, gynecologists/obstetricians, and nurses. Additionally, the USPSTF partners with organizations from the fields of primary care, public health, health promotion, policy, and quality improvement, and Federal health agencies to peer review the draft USPSTF documents and help disseminate the work of the USPSTF to their members.

The Implementation Project Team

To promote the uptake of the USPSTF recommendations in academic settings, AHRQ convened a group of experts to assist AHECs in integrating the USPSTF recommendations into learning experiences. The experts, consisting of two academic professionals, Tim Quigley, M.P.H., P.A.-C and George Sawaya, M.D., and a past and current AHEC director, Shirley Weaver, Ph.D. and David Garr, M.D. respectively, provided guidance for the development and use of this manual. The project representative from AHRQ is Barbara Kass, M.P.H. (

1Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. About USPSTF. Accessed from on 02/01/2010.

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Current as of October 2011
Internet Citation: Section 1. Background: Implementing U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Recommendati. October 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.