What Is the Task Force?

Created in 1984 by President Reagan, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel 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 screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications. All final recommendations are published on the Task Force’s Web site and published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Task Force members come from the fields of preventive medicine and primary care, including internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics and gynecology, and nursing. Their recommendations are based on a rigorous review of existing peer-reviewed evidence and are intended to help primary care clinicians and patients decide together whether a preventive service is right for a patient’s needs.

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 the balance of benefits and harms of a preventive service. The Task Force does not consider the costs of a preventive service when determining a recommendation grade. The recommendations apply only to people who have no signs or symptoms of the specific disease or condition under evaluation, and the recommendations address only services offered in the primary care setting or services referred by a primary care clinician.

Since 1998, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has been authorized by the U.S. Congress to convene the Task Force and to provide ongoing scientific, administrative, and dissemination support to the Task Force.

Each year, the Task Force issues a report to Congress that identifies critical evidence gaps in research related to clinical preventive services and recommends priority areas that deserve further examination. More information on these reports is available here.

Click here to learn more about the current members of the Task Force.