Advancing Diagnostic Safety Research: Results of a Systematic Research Priority Setting Exercise

Laura Zwaan*, Robert El-Kareh, Ashley N.D. Meyer, Jacky Hooftman, Hardeep Singh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Diagnostic errors are a major source of preventable harm but the science of reducing them remains underdeveloped. Objective: To identify and prioritize research questions to advance the field of diagnostic safety in the next 5 years. Participants: Ninety-seven researchers and 42 stakeholders were involved in the identification of the research priorities. Design: We used systematic prioritization methods based on the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) methodology. We first invited a large international group of expert researchers in various disciplines to submit research questions while considering five prioritization criteria: (1) usefulness, (2) answerability, (3) effectiveness, (4) potential for translation, and (5) maximal potential for effect on diagnostic safety. After consolidation, these questions were prioritized at an in-person expert meeting in April 2019. Top-ranked questions were subsequently reprioritized through scoring on the five prioritization criteria using an online questionnaire. We also invited non-research stakeholders to assign weights to the five criteria and then used these weights to adjust the final prioritization score for each question. Key Results: Of the 207 invited researchers, 97 researchers responded and 78 submitted 333 research questions which were then consolidated. Expert meeting participants (n = 21) discussed questions in different breakout sessions and prioritized 50, which were subsequently reduced to the top 20 using the online questionnaire. The top 20 questions addressed mostly system factors (e.g., implementation and evaluation of information technologies), teamwork factors (e.g., role of nurses and other health professionals in the diagnostic process), and strategies to engage patients in the diagnostic process. Conclusions: Top research priorities for advancing diagnostic safety in the short-term include strengthening systems and teams and engaging patients to support diagnosis. High-priority areas identified using these systematic methods can inform an actionable research agenda for reducing preventable diagnostic harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2943-2951
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number10
Early online date9 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation. Dr. Zwaan is additionally supported by a VENI grant from the Dutch National Scientific Organization (NWO; 45116032). Drs. Meyer and Singh are additionally supported in part by the Houston VA HSR&D Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (CIN13-413). Dr. Meyer is also supported by a VA HSR&D Career Development Award (CDA-17-167). Dr. Singh is additionally supported by the VA HSR&D Service (CRE17-127 and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers USA 14-274), the VA National Center for Patient Safety, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R01HS27363). Dr. El-Kareh is additionally supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R01GM118609).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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