Development of a Health Equity Framework for the US Preventive Services Task Force

JAMA Netw Open. 2024 Mar 4;7(3):e241875. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.1875.


Importance: Clinical practice guidelines can play an important role in mitigating health inequities. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has prioritized addressing health equity and racism in its recommendations.

Objective: To develop a framework that would allow the USPSTF to incorporate a health equity lens that spans the entirety of its recommendation-making process.

Evidence review: Key guidance, policy, and explanatory frameworks related to health equity were identified, and their recommendations and findings were mapped to current USPSTF methods. USPSTF members as well as staff from multiple entities supporting the USPSTF portfolio were consulted. Based on all the gathered information, a draft health equity framework and checklist were developed; they were then circulated to the USPSTF's key partners for input and review.

Findings: An equity framework was developed that could be applied to all phases of the recommendation process: (1) topic nomination, selection, and prioritization; (2) development of the work plan; (3) evidence review; (4) evidence deliberation; (5) development of the recommendation statement; and (6) dissemination of recommendations. For each phase, several considerations and checklist items to address are presented. These items include using health equity as a prioritization criterion and engaging a diverse group of stakeholders at the earliest phases in identifying topics for recommendations; developing necessary equity-relevant questions (eg, beyond effectiveness and harms) to address during the protocol phase; using methods in synthesizing the evidence and contextual issues in the evidence review related to specific populations experiencing a disproportionate burden of disease; and examining the magnitude and certainty of net benefit, implementation considerations, risk assessment, and evidence gaps through an equity lens when developing evidence-based recommendations.

Conclusions and relevance: Executing this entire framework and checklist as described will be challenging and will take additional time and resources. Nonetheless, whether adopted in its entirety or in parts, this framework offers guidance to the USPSTF, as well as other evidence-based guideline entities, in its mission to develop a more transparent, consistent, and intentional approach to addressing health equity in its recommendations.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees
  • Checklist
  • Health Equity*
  • Health Inequities
  • Humans
  • Policy