Background: No large-scale work has yet assessed the reactions of physicians to the report of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), despite its potential for fostering a consensus among practitioners. This study undertook a survey of family physicians to assess their agreement with the recommendations of the Task Force.
Methods: A survey containing the verbatim summary recommendations of the USPSTF was mailed to all 1784 active members of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians.
Results: No evidence of selection bias was found among the 898 responding physicians. The average physician agreed with 88% of the recommendations. For a number of recommendations, however, particularly those in which the Task Force differed with the American Cancer Society, there was a high level of disagreement. Physician disagreement with the recommendations was associated with older age, not having completed a residency, male sex, less prior exposure to the USPSTF guidelines, and greater perception of the impracticality of applying them.
Conclusions: The high level of agreement with most USPSTF recommendations implies that they represent an emerging consensus about which preventive services should be delivered. Attempts at USPSTF guideline dissemination should focus on recommendations with high agreement. Additional research is needed to assess the reasons for disagreement.