Influence of Patient and Clinician Gender on Emergency Department HEART Scores: A Secondary Analysis of a Prospective Observational Trial

Author Department

Emergency Medicine; Medicine; Healthcare Quality

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Study objective: Clinical decision aids can decrease health care disparities. However, many clinical decision aids contain subjective variables that may introduce clinician bias. The HEART score is a clinical decision aid that estimates emergency department (ED) patients' cardiac risk. We sought to explore patient and clinician gender's influence on HEART scores.

Methods: In this secondary analysis of a prospective observational trial, we examined a convenience sample of adult ED patients at one institution presenting with acute coronary syndrome symptoms. We compared ED clinician-generated HEART scores with researcher-generated HEART scores blinded to patient gender. The primary outcome was agreement between clinician and researcher HEART scores by patient gender overall and stratified by clinician gender. Analyses used difference-in-difference (DiD) for continuous score and prevalence-adjusted, bias-adjusted Kappa (PABAK) for binary (low versus moderate/high risk) score comparison.

Results: All 336 clinician-patient pairs from the original study were included. In total, 47% (158/336) of patients were women, and 52% (174/336) were treated by a woman clinician. The DiD between clinician and researcher HEART scores among men versus women patients was 0.24 (95% CI -0.01 to 0.48). Compared with researchers, men clinicians assigned a higher score to men versus women patients (DiD 0.51 [95% CI 0.16 to 0.87]), whereas women clinicians did not (DiD 0.00 [95% CI -0.33 to 0.33]). Agreement was the highest among women clinicians (PABAK 0.72; 95% CI 0.61 to 0.81) and lowest among men clinicians assessing men patients (PABAK 0.47; 95% CI 0.29 to 0.66).

Conclusion: Patient and clinician gender may influence HEART scores. Researchers should strive to understand these influences in developing and implementing this and other clinical decision aids.