USPSTF: Insufficient Evidence on Thyroid Screening

(HealthDay News) — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of thyroid screening. 

These findings form the basis of a draft recommendation statement based on an evidence review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In an effort to update the 2004 USPSTF recommendation, J. Bruin Rugge, MD, MPH, from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues conducted a systematic review on the benefits and harms of screening and treatment of subclinical and undiagnosed overt hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in adults.

The researchers found that there were no studies that directly assessed the benefits and harms of screening compared with no screening. 

One fair-quality study showed that treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism vs. no treatment correlated with decreased risk for coronary heart disease. There was no indication of improvements in quality of life, cognitive function, blood pressure or BMI for treatment vs. no treatment. 

Treatment vs. no treatment of screen-detected, undiagnosed overt thyroid dysfunction was not assessed in any study. 

More research is needed to determine the clinical benefits of thyroid screening, the researchers concluded. These findings form the basis of a draft recommendation statement, which is available for comment from Oct. 28 to Nov. 24.

“Screening and treating asymptomatic adults for thyroid dysfunction is common practice,” USPSTF member Jessica Herzstein, MD, MPH, said in a statement. “But right now we don’t know if this ultimately benefits them in the long term.”

Read the full statement and leave comments


  1. Rugge JB et al. Ann Intern Med. 2014;doi:10.7326/M14-1456.
  2. USPSTF. Draft Recommendation Statement on Thyroid Dysfunction: Screening. Accessed October 2014.