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Ann Intern Med. 1991 May 1;114(9):758-83.

Preventive care guidelines: 1991. American College of Physicians. Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination. United States Preventive Services Task Force.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

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  • Ann Intern Med 1991 Aug 15;115(4):332.


Clinicians increasingly are urged to integrate preventive services into their clinical practices. To facilitate this process, several groups have developed practice guidelines for preventing disease in asymptomatic patients. In this paper, we compare and contrast preventive guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP), the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination (CTF), the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and other well-known authorities. We chose these groups because they based their recommendations on explicit methods that include critical appraisal of the pertinent literature. Recommendations from these authorities usually are consistent with each other. Moreover, the ACP, CTF, and USPSTF all favor a shift away from the relatively simple classification of patients by age and sex for general preventive interventions to the more complex stratification of patients by additional risk factors and the formulation of a selective prevention strategy that is specific to each risk profile. Some guidelines, particularly the criteria used to define patients who are at increased risk for preventable disease and who should have more intensive surveillance, are difficult to interpret. Further research is needed to address some areas of disagreement and ambiguity. In addition, new tools must be developed to help physicians apply preventive guidelines, particularly those that require noting many patient-specific characteristics.

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