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Caughey AB, Krist AH, Wolff TA, Barry MJ, Henderson JT, Owens DK, Davidson KW, Simon MA, Mangione CM. USPSTF Approach to Addressing Sex and Gender When Making Recommendations for Clinical Preventive Services. JAMA. 2021 Nov 16; 326(19):1953-1961.
Clinical preventive service recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) are based on transparent, systematic, and rigorous methods that consider the certainty of the evidence and magnitude of net benefit. These guidelines aim to address the needs of diverse populations. Biological sex and gender identity are sources of diversity that are not often considered in studies of clinical preventive services that inform the recommendations, resulting in challenges when evaluating the evidence and communicating recommendations for persons in specific gender identification categories (man/woman/gender nonbinary/gender nonconforming/transgender). To advance its methods, the USPSTF reviewed its past recommendations that included the use of sex and gender terms, reviewed the approaches of other guideline-making bodies, and pilot tested strategies to address sex and gender diversity. Based on the findings, the USPSTF intends to use an inclusive approach to identify issues related to sex and gender at the start of the guideline development process; assess the applicability, variability, and quality of evidence as a function of sex and gender; ensure clarity in the use of language regarding sex and gender; and identify evidence gaps related to sex and gender. Evidence reviews will identify the limitations of applying findings to diverse groups from underlying studies that used unclear terminology regarding sex and gender. The USPSTF will use gender-neutral language when appropriate to communicate that recommendations are inclusive of people of any gender and will clearly state when recommendations apply to individuals with specific anatomy associated with biological sex (male/female) or to specific categories of gender identity. The USPSTF recognizes limited evidence to inform the preventive care of populations based on gender identity.