CDTR in the News Front Page Research Highlights

Carter receives NIH award to develop tool to mitigate implicit bias by increasing clinicians’ empathy to improve patient outcomes

Ebony Carter (MD, MPH), director of the Division of Clinical Research in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine and a past WU-CDTR Pilot Recipient, received an R21 award from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) for a project titled “EleVATE-Clinicians: a tool to mitigate implicit bias by increasing clinicians’ empathy”.

Dr. Carter and her team will leverage an R01-funded trial of 330 pregnant patients randomized to individual prenatal care or Elevating Voices, Addressing Depression, Toxic Stress and Equity in Group Prenatal Care, called EleVATE-Patients. The focus of EleVATE-Patients is whether the intervention improves perinatal depression and pregnancy outcomes. The EleVATE-Clinicians study (1R21MD017933) , will move the focal point from patients to their clinicians. Clinicians facilitating EleVATE groups receive training in trauma- informed care, anti-oppressive principles, dismantling racism, and group dynamics. The team will measure whether patients seeing clinicians with high empathy scores (by validated self- and patient-report) will be less likely to experience perinatal depression, preterm birth, low birthweight (Aim 1), and whether participating in EleVATE GC training and facilitating group prenatal care is associated with increased clinician empathy (Aim 2). The team hypothesizes that the 20+ hours that clinicians spend providing group care allows them to longitudinally apply lessons learned from anti-racism training, develop closer patient relationships, respect patients’ intersectional identities, and strengthens their ability to provide high-quality care for socially dissimilar patients. They also hypothesize that increasing empathy in this way mitigates the impact of implicit bias and contributes to improved patient outcomes. The data from this R21 will be used to plan a multi-site trial powered to further test this hypothesis and determine whether participation in EleVATE facilitates greater clinician advocacy for changes to dismantle structural racism in healthcare.

Dr. Carter is known for her research involving community-based interventions to promote health equity for pregnant women and their babies. Her research focuses on evidence-based methods to optimize management of medical complications in pregnancy and translating knowledge of adverse pregnancy outcomes into risk-reduction strategies for future cardiovascular disease.