Addressing Disparities in Diagnosis

Exploring age, race/ethnicity, and sex

About the Project

Upon first entry in the diagnostic process, the age, race/ethnicity and/or sex of the patient are the first characteristics that are visible to healthcare providers. There is strong evidence that these visible factors matter in diagnostic decision making.

To date, however, little research has focused on how and when the visible factors of age, race/ethnicity, and/or sex influence the risk of diagnostic error.

To help address this gap, the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) is partnering with Stanford University and Patients Improving Research in Diagnosis (PAIRED) Patient Partners to conduct a two-year project to explore and address disparities in diagnosis related to cognitive reasoning pitfalls.

This project, funded by Coverys, will provide evidence and strategies to address disparities in diagnosis due to the visible factors of being female, a young adult, or African American, with a specific focus on the “big three” conditions that are responsible for the vast majority of diagnostic errors: cancer, vascular/heart, and infection.

Meet the Team

Helen Haskell

Helen Haskell

Patient Advisory Council Chair

Helen Haskell is chair of SIDM's Patient Engagement Committee and president of the nonprofit patient safety organizations Mothers Against Medical Error and Consumers Advancing Patient Safety. Since the medical error death of her young son Lewis in 2000, Helen has worked to improve healthcare safety and quality in the U.S. and abroad.

Kathryn McDonald

Kathryn McDonald, PhD

Principal Investigator

Kathryn McDonald is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Health Systems, Quality, and Safety at the Johns Hopkins schools of Nursing and Medicine, with joint appointments in the Carey Business School and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her work focuses on measures and interventions to achieve evidence-based patient-centered healthcare quality and patient safety.

Susie Becken

Patient Advisory Council Member

Susie Becken is currently the Patient Advisor Co-Chair of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Regional Patient Advisory Council and a member of the Los Angeles Medical Center Patient Advisory Council. Susie is also involved with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, where she address members of Congress to gain support for cancer research funding. Full story >>

Lyn Behnke

Lyn Behnke

Patient Advisory Council Member

Dr. Lyn Behnke is a well-seasoned practitioner with experience as a nurse, nurse practitioner, and educator. She began her career as a diploma graduate from Mercy School of Nursing of Detroit. After graduation, she became a critical care nurse, being one of the first CCRN certified nurses in the Flint area. As an educator, Dr. Behnke is intimately aware how important developing an accurate diagnosis is. Full story >>

Jeanette Averett

Jeanette Averette

Patient Advisory Council Member

Jeanette R. Averett, RN, MSN has been a Professional Registered Nurse for over 25 years. She has a variety of experiences in Nursing from Public Health, Behavioral Health, Community Health, School and Emergency/Critical Care. As an advocate for improved patient care and better outcomes, Jeanette is committed to the required protocols necessary to participate in this initiative.

Kimberly Rodgers

Kimberly Rodgers

Patient Advisory Council Member

Ms. Kimberly Rodgers currently works for the City of Chicago - Department of Transportation division. Prior to that, she worked over 11 years as Business Relations Director for De Sio, Franzen & Associates, Ltd. located in Warrenville, Illinois. De Sio, Franzen & Associates, Ltd. is a certified public accounting office founded in 1981.

Sarah Kiehl

Sarah Kiehl

Patient Advisory Council Member

Sarah Kiehl is a Sepsis Alliance representative and proud mother of three daughters. Raising her family has been Sarah's priority since leaving a career in Corporate Aviation, and she has additionally used this time to further her education while pursuing a degree in Nursing. After dealing with endometriosis for many years, she contracted sepsis in March of 2016 following a routine hysterectomy. Full story >>

Key Activities

Patient interviews

Clinician responses

Literature review

Data analysis

Solutions-oriented workshop

Key Outcomes

Development of clinical scenarios

Design a set of solutions to address
disparities in diagnosis

Patient education module

Clinical education module

Have you or a loved one experienced a diagnostic error?
Share Your Story

Latest Research

Read the most recent peer-reviewed research on disparities in diagnosis.

Dx IQ Column

Get the latest in patient-centered news, including articles on how disparities impact diagnoses.

Patient Resources

SIDM offers a variety of resources to help patients participate in achieving an accurate diagnosis.


Questions? Contact us to let us know your thoughts.