UW Radiology Creates New Open-Access Radiology Health Equity Research Database

Posted on January 2023

A team of health equity researchers within the Department of Radiology has developed a powerful new tool for researchers, educators, and clinicians. The Radiology Health Equity Research Database is a publicly available, searchable database containing over 250 articles on racial health equity in radiology. The resource will streamline research efforts, paving the way for future work to effectively target existing issues. 

Health equity continues to gain priority in medical research fields. However, this growing body of evidence was dispersed across journals and disciplines. 

“Without an intensive search, it was difficult to access,” explains Andrew Ross, MD,  the project’s lead. “We wanted to provide people with ready access to the existing literature, so there would be less duplication of effort. It would allow people to more easily identify gaps in the literature, as well as new avenues for research.” 

To address this issue, Dr. Ross and his team – which included Rebecca Colwell, a former UWSMPH medical student, and Anand Narayan, MD, PhD, Vice Chair of Equity – wrote the first systematic review on health equity in radiology. The review identified all articles regarding racial equity in radiology published between 2000 and 2021. The paper, published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology in April 2022, laid the groundwork for the database. 

“It was well-received, and we wanted to make it more easily accessible,” Dr. Ross said. “A live, open-access website would allow us to keep up with the pace of publication and reduce barriers even further.” 

The database website became public during the fall of 2022, and users can search articles by keyword or by other criteria, such as publication year or type of clinical setting. To develop the database, Ritika Punathil, a UWSMPH medical student, worked with Dr. Ross to identify and index 60 new articles by criteria, as part of her Shapiro Summer Research Program project. The database will be updated annually or upon request to ensure that the resource remains useful as more work is published.

By collecting relevant literature, existing gaps can be easily identified. Certain clinical areas – for example, colorectal and lung cancer screenings – are underrepresented. Additionally, in the 2021 review, only 8% of the articles evaluated strategies to mitigate existing race-based inequities in diagnostic imaging. Dr. Ross is hopeful that the increased access will promote research that addresses these gaps and begins to offer possible solutions.