U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)

Diseases are a major threat to human survival. In 1998, it was estimated that infectious diseases had accounted for 54 million deaths worldwide (Johnstone, 2008). Further, in the United States alone, the disease-related mortality rates had doubled to 170,000 by 2008 as compared to a historic low in 1980 (Johnstone, 2008, p. 23). From this statistics, one can see that diseases are undeniably a menace and they require prevention, treatment, and control. Therefore, all people need to be empowered to manage their health and to achieve optimum health for themselves and their families. It is through this realization that the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) aim to ensure appropriate and cost-effective treatment for all people. Furthermore, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) came up with various interventions to curb disease spread. This paper examines screening and behavioral counseling as prevention strategies by the USPSTF and explains why these approaches have a significant impact on the prevention of various illnesses.

The first intervention for disease prevention by the USPSTF is screening. Screening is a process used to determine a pathophysiology before the symptoms begin. Wardle, Robb, Vernon, and Waller (2015) divide screening into two categories – primary and secondary. Primary screening is a process of carrying out tests to prevent the development of a disease. On the other hand, secondary screening is a process of identifying conditions earlier to improve the outcome of disease through an early diagnosis (Wardle et al., 2015. p. 119). For example, in colorectal cancer, the early detection of precancerous cells can enable interventions to eradicate the disease (primary screening). However, the outcome of other cancers, such as prostate and ovarian cancer, can only be improved through an early diagnosis, a form of secondary screening. Regardless of the type of screening, the process enables the early detection of diseases so that therapeutic interventions could begin. Therefore, this process will have a significant impact on preventing cancers and other diseases. For instance, the USPSTF (2015a) recommends commencing cancer screening to all women between 21 to 65 years of age regardless of their sexual history. This recommendation enables all women within this age bracket to begin seeking medical help early enough to prevent the disease spread. Additionally, the treatment costs will be affordable since the interventions occur before the condition is advanced.

The second intervention employed by the USPSTF in the prevention of diseases is behavioral counseling. After screening individuals of a given health condition, health education regarding the disease will enable the person to make informed choices. For instance, testing a client for HIV/AIDS and sensitizing them on the dangers of the disease will allow them control their behavior and practice safe sex. Therefore, the USPSTF (2015b) recommends screening of adults above 18 years and advocates a brief behavioral counseling to reduce alcohol misuse. The recommendation is based on available evidence; thus, it is reliable. Various studies have attributed alcohol use to violent behavior and car accidents among others. For instance, Kirby and Barry (2012) argue that alcohol is a gateway drug to other illicit drugs such as tobacco and marijuana. Therefore, behavioral counseling is a significant strategy in preventing alcohol-related diseases. The USPSTF does it through creating awareness and encouraging behavior change.

In conclusion, screening and behavioral counseling are two most significant steps in preventing diseases. The U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) employs these two strategies to ensure the prevention of various diseases. Detecting a disease before it advances enables the patient to seek early medical attention. Additionally, it is affordable to manage a disease in its initial stages than to wait until it progresses. Furthermore, offering behavioral counseling to patients is a useful measure in curbing many illnesses. Some behaviors, such as alcohol misuse, put one at the risk of diseases. Moreover, alcohol is a gateway drug to other diseases that have dire consequences to the health of individuals. Therefore, screening and behavioral counseling by the USPSTF have a significant impact in preventing cancer and alcohol-related diseases.

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