U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Delivers its First Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services

November 01, 2011

Hey folks, this is significant. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has come out with eleven high-priority clinical preventive services that USPSTF believes deserve further examination. (So researchers and funders of research need to listen up!)

In the Affordable Care Act, Congress also requested that the USPSTF identify evidence gaps that prevent it from making recommendations that target specific populations or age groups. On the list of four specific topics that the USPSTF has prioritized as having critical evidence gaps for targeted populations and age groups that may be addressed through research and that if filled are likely to result in important new recommendations, number two is Screening for Depression in Children.

From the report:

  • High-Priority Evidence Gaps in Clinical Preventive Services Targeting Specific Populations and Age Groups
    Screening for Depression in Children
    Major depressive disorder (MDD) among youth is a disabling condition that is associated with serious long-term morbidity and risk of suicide. However, the majority of depressed youth are undiagnosed and untreated. In 2009, the USPSTF found inadequate evidence that screening tests accurately identify MDD in school-aged children, and that antidepressants (i.e., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs] such as fluoxetine) reduce MDD symptoms in children. There are limited data on the benefits of psychotherapy and the benefits of psychotherapy plus SSRIs in children. Studies are also needed that examine collaborative care management approaches compared with usual clinical care, as well as epidemiologic studies that describe the prevalence of MDD in children in primary health care settings according to age, sex, and race/ethnicity. Observational studies of risks for longer-term outcomes associated with the use of antidepressants would also contribute to addressing current evidence gaps.

Okay, the message is clear – USPSTF is telling Congress that this is an important area of focus and that more research could result in important new recommendations. Time to get busy.

Read the press release:

In its “First Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services,” the USPSTF highlights eleven high-priority clinical preventive services that the USPSTF believes deserve further examination with the hope that it will assist public and private researchers and research funders in targeting their efforts.  Additionally the Report includes an overview of the USPSTF, its methods, and processes.
Concurrent with the release of the USPSTF’s report, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) issued its first Report to Congress.  The work of the USPSTF complements that of the CPSTF, which makes recommendations to identify programs, services, and policies proven effective in communities, worksites, schools, and local governments. The CPSTF report provides background on the CPSTF, its methods, findings, and recommendations, and describes both gaps in existing research on community preventive services and priorities for future Task Force efforts.
Taken together, the recommendations of the two Task Forces provide our nation with the knowledge of how health is improved by prevention in both clinical and community settings. The two reports were submitted to Congress together on October 27, 2011 to demonstrate the close collaboration of the two Task Forces, and to provide a full picture of our nation’s prevention research needs.

Download the complete report here

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