Racial Disparities and Mistrust in End-of-Life Care


Willie Boag, Harini Suresh, Leo Anthony Celi, Peter Szolovits, Marzyeh Ghassemi ;
Proceedings of the 3rd Machine Learning for Healthcare Conference, PMLR 85:587-602, 2018.


There are established racial disparities in healthcare, including during end-of-life care, when poor communication and trust can lead to suboptimal outcomes for patients and their families. In this work, we find that racial disparities which have been reported in existing literature are also present in the MIMIC-III database. We hypothesize that one underlying cause of this disparity is due to mistrust between patient and caregivers, and we develop multiple possible trust metric proxies (using coded interpersonal variables and clinical notes) to measure this phenomenon more directly. These metrics show even stronger disparities in end-of-life care than race does, and they also tend to demonstrate statistically significant higher levels of mistrust for black patients than white ones. Finally, we demonstrate that these metrics improve performance on three clinical tasks: in-hospital mortality, discharge against medical advice (AMA) and modified care status (e.g., DNR, DNI, etc.).

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