In a recent post, I noted that it is a problem that the US Preventive Services Task Force frequently finds that it has insufficient evidence to grade the effectiveness of a preventive service. I argued that the best improve the decision making of the USPSTF was to get more evidence by doing more comparative effectiveness studies.
"Duh," sez the thought balloon above your head.
Or as Daniel Goldberg said more politely in the Comments,
this is simply a well-studied feature of the problematic that is evidence-based public health policy. Namely, that we frequently (usually?) lack evidence of reasonable, let alone high, quality that would be sufficient to guide us with a modicum of confidence on any particular public health policy question.
No one disagrees that the best answer to this problem is to obtain better evidence of sufficient quality, but that does not address the real-time problem that the data simply may not exist at the time a decision needs to be made.
In the next post, I will discuss Daniel's absolutely real "problem that the data simply may not exist at the time a decision needs to be made."
But first, is it true that "[n]o one disagrees that the best answer to this problem is to obtain better evidence"? My strong impression is that most if not all Republican legislators and pundits would resist legislation to increase federal funding for comparative effectiveness research on preventive services. We have to speak up for more data.