Doris Duke Foundation Announces "Racial Equity in Clinical Equations"

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Doris Duke Foundation Announces "Racial Equity in Clinical Equations"

New York – June 27, 2023 – The potentially improper use of race in the design of clinical algorithms – mathematical models used to guide disease diagnosis and treatment – can lead to profound racial disparities in health care outcomes. Today, the Doris Duke Foundation (DDF) steps forward to address this problem with Racial Equity in Clinical Equations, a new initiative launching with a landmark convening and the largest ever investment in gathering the evidence necessary to inform change.

Attention to the potentially dangerous results of race misuse in clinical equations is growing, as physicians, policymakers, and patient advocates have begun to scrutinize formulas used to inform evaluations such as the diagnosis of kidney disease and transplant allocationpediatric care including urinary tract infections in toddlers, and the ability to have a vaginal birth after C-section. What is critically necessary is a concerted and collaborative movement among funders, researchers, clinicians and patients to develop a more rigorous approach to how race is applied and understood in the design of clinical algorithms and the assessments they inform.

The Doris Duke Foundation aims to fuel such a movement with this initiative. The goals of Racial Equity in Clinical Equations are to increase awareness of the problem within the medical research community, to build support for the examination and revision of clinical algorithms that improperly use race, and to generate evidence that can inform new guidelines to help shape clinical equations that improve health care outcomes.

The work is urgent. Race may or may not be a relevant factor in individual formulas that inform medical decision-making, but a failure to consider the downstream impact of choosing – or excluding – race as an element in clinical equations can have disastrous results, potentially leading to the over, under, or misdiagnosis of disease, delayed treatment, and negative outcomes in patients of color.

Racial Equity in Clinical Equations addresses this concern. The initiative begins with a summit in partnership with The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and the National Academy of Medicine, and with over $10 million in new Doris Duke Foundation grants – the largest investment to date to provide data that can effect progress on this issue. The summit will draw together powerful stakeholders in the clinical, research, funding, and policy realms to learn about ongoing efforts, and identify opportunities to address the misuse of race in formulas guiding medical decision-making head on...

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