USPSTF is unable to recommend for or against lipid screening to identify multifactorial dyslipidaemia in childhood: no recommendation is not without consequences

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Abstract

Paediatric lipid screening has been recommended for decades to identify youth at increased risk for early atherosclerotic disease but is controversial and not universally adopted. A 2016 review by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found inadequate evidence to recommend for or against lipid screening in childhood. In this Perspective article, we examine this controversial and important topic more broadly. We consider whether the USPSTF framework is asking the right questions, and whether the answers to these questions should be valued equally, whether the USPSTF questions are answerable and by what types of evidence and whether the burden of proof is appropriate. We argue that using a broader framework that includes the magnitude of potential benefits and harms, considering more types of evidence beyond randomised controlled trials, and more fully incorporating patient and parent perspectives could lead to more practical and more widely applicable guidance for practitioners, guide future research priorities and be more inclusive of patient priorities.

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