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Press Release Date: June 22, 1998
Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Administrator John M. Eisenberg, M.D., today
announced the selection of two Clinical Prevention Centers to support the work of the soon-to-be reconvened U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The Centers, already
under contract to AHCPR as two of 12 Evidence-based Practice Centers, are Research
Triangle Institute (RTI) in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(UNC), and Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU).
"With their combined wealth of experience in outcomes research and in research on
prevention across the lifespan, RTI/UNC and Oregon Health Sciences University will bring
important expertise to the evidence-based approach of the U.S. Preventive Services Task
Force," said Dr. Eisenberg. "There is no substitute for clinical practice that rests on the
foundation of solid scientific assessment."
RTI/UNC and OHSU have many years prior experience in evidence-based activities,
according to Dr. Eisenberg. Under AHCPR's evidence-based practice initiative, they are part
of a network of centers that produce comprehensive evaluations of medical treatments and
technologies in collaboration with outside partners such as professional organizations, health
plans and consumer groups. Their reports provide the foundation for public and private
efforts to improve the quality of health care.
The USPSTF, an independent panel of preventive health specialists, was first convened in
1984 by the U.S. Public Health Service to evaluate the scientific evidence for the
effectiveness of a range of clinical preventive services (screening, immunizations and
counseling for health behavior change) and to produce age- and risk-factor specific
recommendations regarding the use of clinical preventive services by primary care clinicians.
The Task Force recommendations were issued in 1989 in the Guide to Clinical Preventive
Services; revised recommendations by a reconvened panel were issued in 1995 in a second
edition of the Guide.
Dr. Eisenberg said the newly designated Clinical Prevention Centers will provide hands-on
support to all USPSTF activities, including:
- Identifying high-priority topics.
- Reviewing and synthesizing research to assist the USPSTF in making new recommendations.
- Drafting new chapters for inclusion in the third edition of the Guide.
- Marshaling appropriate clinical and methodologic staff for topics across the spectrum of clinical preventive services.
The collaboration between UNC and RTI brings the combined expertise of two institutions
with distinguished records in prevention research and evaluation. UNC is home to nationally
recognized Schools of Medicine and Public Health, the Cecil Sheps Center for Health
Services Research, and a CDC-funded Center for Research and Demonstration in Health
Promotion and Disease Prevention. RTI is an independent, nonprofit organization that works
with private, federal and state partners on a wide range of research and development in health
policy, public health, medicine and environmental protection.
Russell Harris, M.D., M.P.H., of UNC, and Kathleen Lohr, Ph.D., of RTI, will co-direct the
USPSTF activities for RTI/UNC. Dr. Harris is an internist with broad expertise in
prevention, and cancer screening in particular. He is principal investigator on a National
Cancer Institute grant to improve cancer prevention activities in primary care practice. Dr.
Lohr is director of Health Services and Policy Research at RTI.
Among her relevant experiences, she has served as director of the Division of Health Care
Services at the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, where she directed a
variety of projects analyzing quality of care and health care policy.
The Clinical Prevention Center at OHSU represents a partnership between the OHSU School
of Medicine, the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research (KPCHR), the Portland
Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Center for Outcomes Research and Education at the
Providence Health System, Portland. The successful history of collaboration between OHSU,
a leading managed-care research center, and the VA health system will allow the Task Force
to examine some of the implications of implementing new preventive services in different
systems of care.
Mark Helfand, M.D., M.P.H., who will direct the Clinical Prevention Center at OHSU, is a
primary care internist with a distinguished career in the evaluation of medical technology and
screening tests. He has authored screening recommendations developed by the American
College of Physicians as well as analyses for panels of the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Helfand
also was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar.
Working with Dr. Helfand will be Heidi D. Nelson, M.D., M.P.H., a general internist whose
clinical and research interests are in women's health and substance abuse. Evelyn Whitlock,
M.D., M.P.H., will lead the work at KPCHR, which has extensive experience in developing
and implementing clinical preventive services in such areas as health behavior change, cancer
screening and chronic disease management.
According to Dr. Eisenberg, the USPSTF will be reconvened in the Fall of 1998 to update
previous recommendations and to evaluate prevention interventions not previously assessed.
To speed implementation of new and updated recommendation, the Task Force will release
individual reports and recommendations as they are completed. The third full edition of the
Guide is anticipated for release in late 2002.
For additional information, please contact AHCPR Press Office: Salina V. Prasad, (301) 427-1864 (SPrasad@ahrq.gov).