Standards of Evidence for Behavioral Counseling Recommendations. Academic Article uri icon


  • Behavioral counseling interventions to promote healthy behaviors can significantly reduce leading causes of disease and death. Recommendations for delivery of these interventions in primary care have been and continue to be an important part of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's portfolio of clinical preventive services recommendations. However, primary and secondary research on the effectiveness of behavioral counseling interventions can be more complex than recommendations for screening or use of preventive medications. The nature of behavior change and interventions to promote it can lead to unique challenges. This paper summarizes and expands upon an extensive discussion held at the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's Expert Forum on behavioral counseling interventions held in November 2013. The paper describes the foundational challenges for using behavioral outcomes as evidence to support a Task Force recommendation. The paper discusses research design and reporting characteristics needed by behavioral counseling intervention researchers in order for their research to contribute to the evidentiary basis of a Task Force recommendation. Finally, the paper identifies critical issues that need to be considered by the Task Force and other stakeholders to maintain confidence and credibility in the standards of evidence for behavioral counseling recommendations.

published proceedings

  • Am J Prev Med

author list (cited authors)

  • McNellis, R. J., Ory, M. G., Lin, J. S., & O'Connor, E. A.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • McNellis, Robert J||Ory, Marcia G||Lin, Jennifer S||O'Connor, Elizabeth A

publication date

  • September 2015