The Scientific Admissibility of Evidence on the Effectiveness of Preventive Interventions

  • Walter O. Spitzer
Part of the Frontiers of Primary Care book series (PRIMARY)


Soon after the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination began its deliberations in 1976, the first of many crucial policy decisions was made unanimously by the members. The policy concerned grounds on which recommendations of the task force would be based. One alternative could have been to depend heavily on the opinion of experts (task force members and consultants throughout the world) and to forge a series of consensus positions on the issues to be decided; the second alternative was to base the recommendations on scientific evidence whenever such evidence existed and to invoke such evidence following explicit, predetermined criteria. The task force adopted the latter approach as its governing policy. In retrospect, that decision, innovative at the time, was the most important one the task force made. The strategy followed in the next three years of deliberation, the process of decision making, and the diffusion of recommendations on disease prevention and health protection were driven by the first decision. The report of the Canadian task force gave preeminence to evidence.


Task Force Health Protection Ground Rule Tertiary Prevention Periodic Health Examination 
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  1. 1.
    Spitzer WO (Chairman): Report of the Task Force on the periodic health examination. Can Med Assoc J1979; 121: 1193 – 1254.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Spitzer WO, Le Blanc FE, Dupuis M: Scientific approach to the assessment and management of activity-related spinal disorders 1987; Spine 12 (suppl) S1–S59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter O. Spitzer

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