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

Zwaan L, El-Kareh R, Meyer AND, Hooftman J, Singh H. Advancing Diagnostic Safety Research: Results of a Systematic Research Priority Setting Exercise. Journal of general internal medicine. 2021 Oct 1; 36(10):2943-2951.

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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.

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