Advocacy and Health Policy |

Consensus of Health Experts Ensure that Women Receive the Preventive Care They Need

Washington, DC—Today, a coalition of national health professional organizations put forward updated recommendations for clinical guidelines to the Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration announced they are supporting these clinical guidelines. With the aim of improving the well-being of women across the country, the list of preventive services includes implementation considerations to address clinical and practical aspects of applying the recommendation for patient care.


The new HRSA-supported guidelines address a number of unique health issues and concerns that women face and span topics from screening pregnant women for gestational diabetes to prevention education and risk assessment for HIV in adolescent and adult women.

Notably, included in the new recommendations is breast cancer screening for average-risk women, a topic that has been the cause of confusion between patients and practitioners alike. It allows for screening to begin as early as age 40 and for women to receive a mammogram every one or two years.

Other updates to the Women’s Preventive Services Recommendations include:

  • Comprehensive Lactation Support Services (including counseling, education, and breastfeeding equipment and supplies) during pregnancy and the postpartum period to ensure the successful initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding.
  • Cervical Cancer Screening for average-risk women aged 21 to 65 years. For women aged 21 to 29 years, the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative recommends cervical cancer screening using cervical cytology (Pap test) every 3 years. Cotesting with cytology and human papillomavirus testing is not recommended for women younger than 30 years. Women aged 30 to 65 years should be screened with cytology and human papillomavirus testing every 5 years or cytology alone every 3 years.
  • Screening Pregnant Women for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus after 24 weeks of gestation (preferably between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation) in order to prevent adverse birth outcomes.
  • Contraceptive Care for adolescent and adult women and access to the full range of female-controlled contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancy and improve birth outcomes. Contraceptive care should include contraceptive counseling, initiation of contraceptive use, and follow-up care (e.g., management and evaluation, as well as changes to and removal or discontinuation of the contraceptive method).
  • Prevention Education and Risk Assessment for HIV Infection in adolescents and adult women at least annually throughout the lifespan. All women should be tested for HIV at least once during their lifetime. Additional screening should be based on risk, and screening annually or more often may be appropriate for adolescents and women with an increased risk of HIV infection.
  • Screening Adolescents and Women for Interpersonal and Domestic Violence and, when needed, providing or referring for intervention services.
  • Directed Behavioral Counseling for Sexually Active Adolescent and Adult Women at an increased risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Preventive Care Visit at least one visit per year, beginning in adolescence and continuing across the lifespan to ensure that the recommended preventive services are obtained.

“The National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health is pleased to endorse the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI) Recommendations and fully supports the consensus process used by the WPSI advisory panel and steering committee in reaching the final recommendations,” stated Gay Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, NPWH. “This document will provide helpful guidelines and valuable information to all healthcare providers in the care of their patients.”

In 2011, HRSA worked with the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (formerly known as the Institutes of Medicine (IOM)) to develop the initial Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines. Five years after these recommendations were released, HRSA awarded approximately $950,000 in funding per year for a five-year cooperative agreement with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to update these guidelines and subsequently to develop additional preventive health recommendations to enhance women’s overall health care.

ACOG is taking a similar approach to that of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in their development and update of the Bright Futures guidelines for well-child and adolescent care. The two organizations are working closely together as AAP is a member of the steering committee to update and develop new recommendations within the Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines.

ACOG led the Multidisciplinary Steering Committee, which included representatives from the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health. To ensure the scientific basis of these preventive care recommendations, the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) at Oregon Health & Science University conducted comprehensive evidence reviews used as the basis for each topic recommendation. The recommendations contained in this report represent the conclusions of the WPSI and are not necessarily the recommendations of any individual organization that participated in the Multidisciplinary Steering Committee.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.