Identifying and Addressing Disparities in Pediatric Emergency Care: A Research Priority Agenda

  • Published January 31, 2024

JAMA Network Open recently published an article with a list of research priorities specific to care disparities by race, ethnicity, and language developed by the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) disparities working group.

The article points out the lack of a proper research plan for differences in pediatric emergency care. To address this, 47 diverse partners and organizations (including families, child life specialists, interpreters, nurse practitioners, nurses, physicians, and researchers) took part in online surveys in late 2021 and early 2022 to identify important research topics.

Survey respondents gave the highest priority to 12 out of 27 topics. The top-priority research topics (see chart defining topics here) identified are:

  1. efforts to reduce differences systematically,
  2. collecting data on race, ethnicity, and language,
  3. recognizing and addressing clinician implicit bias,
  4. mental health differences,
  5. social factors affecting health,
  6. language and literacy,
  7. managing acute pain disparities,
  8. metrics for equitable care quality,
  9. shared decision-making,
  10. patient experience,
  11. triage acuity score assignment, and
  12. inclusive research participation.

The study is significant as a guide for those involved in funding, conducting, participating in, and publishing research related to pediatric emergency care differences. By highlighting these 12 priorities, the research plan aims to focus attention and resources on crucial areas that can contribute to reducing health differences among children.

“There has been an increase in the number of studies investigating disparities over the last decade, not just in pediatric emergency medicine, but across medical specialties,” says Elyse N. Portillo, MD, MPH, of Texas Children’s Hospital, the study’s first author and Chair of the PECARN Disparities Working Group. “Many of these studies are descriptive, and calls are mounting to address, rather than just describe, disparities. Our group felt that there wasn’t a clear roadmap for where we needed to go in this field of study, and so we set out to make one"

Read the article here or learn more about PECARN here.