USPSTF Announces New Approach to Gender Inclusivity

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), providing an overview of its approach to improving communications around sex and gender in recommendation statements. USPSTF, an independent volunteer panel of national experts in preventive and evidence-based medicine, issues recommendations about clinical preventive services, including screenings, counseling, and medications.

The task force will now consider the applicability of evidence to transgender, nonbinary, gender diverse, and intersex individuals. In addition, its research plans will consider whether a preventive service should be applied according to biological or physiological sex characteristics, gender identity, or both.

“Clinicians nationwide are caring for people across the spectrum of gender diversity, and we want to help ensure that they have the best possible information to keep people healthy,” said Aaron Caughey, MD, PhD, USPSTF member, professor, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology, and associate dean for women’s health research and policy at Oregon Health & Science University. “Unfortunately, research studies of clinical preventive services often do not fully consider biological sex and gender identity, leaving the Task Force without the data necessary to offer more nuanced recommendations. We are calling for all clinical research to adopt a more inclusive approach to considering and reporting the sex and gender of study participants.”

“While better data is essential, we are also committed to updating our own processes now so that we can better support the health of people of all genders,” said Michael Barry, MD, USPSTF member and director of the informed medical decisions program at Massachusetts General Hospital. “This includes using gender-neutral language when appropriate, and clearly stating whether each given recommendation should be applied based on someone’s sex at birth, current anatomy, or gender identity.”

Sources: USPSTF press release, October 25, 2021; Caughey AB, Krist AH, Wolff TA, et al. USPSTF approach to addressing sex and gender when making recommendations for clinical preventive services [published online ahead of print, 2021 Oct 25]. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.15731