Racial Disparity in the Clinical Risk Assessment

Jeffrey Kerner, Bridget McCoy, Nadia Gilbo, Mary Colavita, Mimi Kim, Lisa Zaval, Merrill Rotter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Implicit bias has been shown to impact care in many medical specialties. However, few studies examine its impact on psychiatry. Psychiatrists, especially in the Emergency Room, must assess patients’ level of dangerousness when determining an appropriate disposition. For a variety of reasons, clinical understanding of dangerousness may be highly vulnerable to implicit bias. This study aims to determine if there is implicit bias in a psychiatric emergency room setting when determining disposition. Patients were included if their race was recorded as White or Black and if their disposition was either admitted to the inpatient psychiatric unit or discharged to the community (N = 743). Analyses were performed to evaluate associations between race, age, gender and disposition. No statistically significant difference in admission rates between races was found. While this could indicate genuine racial parity, there are many factors that may have masked racial disparity and could warrant further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-591
Number of pages6
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Dangerousness
  • Implicit bias
  • Psychiatric admission
  • Race
  • Racial discrepancy
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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