Federal task force reveals evidence gaps in preventive health services
- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has identified six areas where there is insufficient evidence for it to make a recommendation on clinical preventive services, including autism and skin cancer screening.
- The group also identified three evidence gaps related to specific populations in the U.S.
- Details and recommendations are included in the USPSTF’s sixth annual report to Congress.
The three population-related evidence gaps USPSTF found are screening for breast cancer in African American women, for cervical cancer in Hispanic and African American Women, and for colorectal cancer in African Americans and American Indians/Alaska natives.
The task force's recommendations are in step with other recent efforts to reduce cancer cases in ethnic subpopulations. In July, the National Institutes of Health announced a collaborative effort to build the largest-ever study focusing on genetic and biological factors that increase black women’s risk of breast cancer.
According to the report, there is insufficient evidence to make recommendations about clinical preventive services for the following issues:
- Screening for autism spectrum disorder in young children;
- Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea in men;
- Tobacco smoking cessation (electronic nicotine delivery systems) in adults;
- Vitamin supplementation (nutrients and multivitamins) to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease;
- Aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer; and
- Screening for skin cancer in adults.
USPSTF notes, for instance, that while 69% of adults who smoke daily say they want to quit, clinical studies are needed to show whether e-cigarettes are effective in helping smokers achieve that goal. There is also a need for more evidence on their side effects, risks and benefits and whether they deter use of other tobacco products. Regarding aspirin use, the task force calls for studies in racial and ethnic subpopulations and evidence of the benefits and harms of aspirin therapy in adults younger than 50 years or older than 70.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Sixth Annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services