Clinical preventive services recommendations are based on the rigorous analysis of scientific knowledge presented by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The USPSTF conducts impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a broad range of clinical preventive services, including screening, counseling, and preventive medications. The AAFP reviews recommendations released by the USPSTF and makes recommendations based on the evidence.
Clinical preventive services recommendations are provided only as assistance for physicians making clinical decisions regarding the care of their patients. As such, they cannot substitute for the individual judgment brought to each clinical situation by the patient’s family physician. As with all clinical reference resources, they reflect the best understanding of the science of medicine at the time of publication, but they should be used with the clear understanding that continued research may result in new knowledge and recommendations. These recommendations are only one element in the complex process of improving the health of America. To be effective, the recommendations must be implemented.
In 2007, the USPSTF changed the grading of evidence for new recommendations. The AAFP also changed its grading system to be more consistent with the USPSTF. The USPSTF and the AAFP are in a transition period and are implementing the use of two different grading systems for recommendations. The first grading system applies to the recommendations issued before May 2007, and the second grading system applies to recommendations issued during or after May 2007. These grading systems are outlined below.
|A||Recommendation: The AAFP recommends the service. There is high certainty that the net benefit is substantial.|
|B||Recommendation: The AAFP recommends the service. There is high certainty that the net benefit is moderate or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial.|
|C||Recommendation: The AAFP recommends selectively offering or providing this service to individual patients based on professional judgment and patient preferences. There is at least moderate certainty that the net benefit is small.|
|D||Recommendation: The AAFP recommends against the service. There is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.|
|I||Recommendation: The AAFP concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of the service. Evidence is lacking, of poor quality, or conflicting, and the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined.|
|I-HB||Healthy Behavior is identified as desirable but the effectiveness of physician’s advice and counseling is uncertain.|