Introduction Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to improve efficiency and quality of care in healthcare settings. The lack of consideration for equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the lifecycle of AI within healthcare settings may intensify social and health inequities, potentially causing harm to under-represented populations. This article describes the protocol for a scoping review of the literature relating to integration of EDI in the AI interventions within healthcare setting. The objective of the review is to evaluate what has been done on integrating EDI concepts, principles and practices in the lifecycles of AI interventions within healthcare settings. It also aims to explore which EDI concepts, principles and practices have been integrated into the design, development and implementation of AI in healthcare settings.
Method and analysis The scoping review will be guided by the six-step methodological framework developed by Arksey and O’Malley supplemented by Levac et al, and Joanna Briggs Institute methodological framework for scoping reviews. Relevant literature will be identified by searching seven electronic databases in engineering/computer science and healthcare, and searching the reference lists and citations of studies that meet the inclusion criteria. Studies on AI in any healthcare and geographical settings, that have considered aspects of EDI, published in English and French between 2005 and present will be considered. Two reviewers will independently screen titles, abstracts and full-text articles according to inclusion criteria. We will conduct a thematic analysis and use a narrative description to describe the work. Any disagreements will be resolved through discussion with the third reviewer. Extracted data will be summarised and analysed to address aims of the scoping review. Reporting will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews. The study began in April 2022 and is expected to end in September 2023. The database initial searches resulted in 5,745 records when piloted in April 2022.
Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval is not required. The study will map the available literature on EDI concepts, principles and practices in AI interventions within healthcare settings, highlight the significance of this context, and offer insights into the best practices for incorporating EDI into AI-based solutions in healthcare settings. The results will be disseminated through open-access peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, social media and 2-day workshops with relevant stakeholders.
- Health Equity
- Protocols & guidelines
- MEDICAL ETHICS
- Health informatics
Data availability statement
No data are available.
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
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Strengths and limitations of this study
To our knowledge, this will be the first scoping review of literature on AI in healthcare that evaluates how studies have considered and integrated equity, diversity and inclusion concepts, principles and practices.
Our search will be limited to literature published in English and French, and to 2005 onwards; however, this allows for a focus on the most recent/relevant developments in the field, which is rapidly evolving.
A comprehensive search in multiple databases along with evidence in published and grey literature sources will allow us to extensively map the current landscape of EDI throughout the lifecycle of AI within healthcare.
To ensure transparency and objectivity, this scoping review will adhere to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses standards for conducting scoping reviews.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the branch of engineering and computer sciences focusing on development of computer systems that could perform tasks that require human-like intelligence to perform complex tasks. These tasks include learning, reasoning and self-correction.1–4 AI-enabled technologies are increasingly being applied in all fields in our current society including healthcare4–6 where they have been used for classification of diseases7 screening8 and validation of diagnosis.9 10
AI-enabled technologies are increasingly augmenting healthcare services, supporting healthcare professionals in their decision-making process11 and improving the efficiency of the health systems.12 Health systems are pivotal for effective and efficient healthcare delivery and their ultimate goals are achieving the quintuple aim of care.13 The application of AI-enabled technologies in health systems is anticipated to improve system efficiency and health outcomes for all populations, by alleviating workload on healthcare professionals and improving quality of care through error reduction and increased precision.14
Despite the benefits of AI in healthcare settings, both AI and health systems are faced with a lack of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) principles and practices. The lack of consideration of EDI concepts, principles and practices in AI within healthcare settings can introduce bias and discrimination against some groups of the population.15 The most at-risk groups to face bias and discrimination often belong to minorities that have been historically and systemically marginalised.16 Lack of EDI principles and practices in the lifecycles of AI technologies within healthcare—from design to implementation stages—is emerging in the scholarly discourse as a social, ethical and health concern.
Although the definitions of EDI concepts keep evolving and will likely continue to do so, it is critical to recognise their context-dependent nature, varying from one setting to another. For instance, in healthcare, equity is perceived as a multidimensional concept and refers to treating people with fairness and recognising the existence of systemic barriers for marginalised groups.17 The concept of diversity is also extremely complex and refers to individuals’ and groups’ unique experiences and perspectives. These experiences are linked to individual traits such as personality and identifiers like race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality among others. Finally, the concept of inclusion means the intentional efforts to implement practices that enable the entire community to be and feel valued, supported and respected, with special attention to under-represented groups. For this work, we adapt a broader perspective of EDI as a conscious effort to incorporate a diverse range of social identities and perspectives, including those normally marginalised, into decision making on social and health issues that impact their lives and well-being.
The current AI ethics practices and guidelines should be expanded to incorporate equity, diversity and inclusion concepts, principles and practices in AI lifecycle. So far, studies on AI in healthcare have been conducted on some of ethical aspects. For example, studies have been conducted on ethical fairness, transparency18 and explainability.19 20 To the best of our knowledge, there are currently no studies on integration of EDI concepts, principles and practices into the design, development and implementation of AI within healthcare settings. Recent research12 14 21 suggests that studies on the application of AI in healthcare rarely included all stakeholders in the design, development and implementation of the AI systems. Some studies12 14 21 also indicate that there is a lack of consideration and incorporation of EDI concepts, principles and practices in the application of AI in healthcare settings. To bridge this knowledge gap, we are conducting this scoping review.
Protocol design, registration and reporting
The proposed scoping review will be conducted in accordance with the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) guideline and the six-step methodological framework developed by Arksey and O’Malley supplemented by Levac et al. methodology.22 The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) Statement for protocols and JBI reporting checklists were consulted when preparing this protocol.23 24
The research questions
In line with the aims of this scoping review, we have developed the following questions:
What efforts have been made to incorporate EDI concepts, principles and practices throughout the lifecycles of AI within healthcare settings?
Which specific EDI concepts, principles and practices have been integrated into the design, development and implementation of AI within healthcare settings?
The review will consider sources of evidence on individuals who are users and/or providers of social or healthcare services. There will be no restrictions based on an individual’s health condition(s).
We will include all studies irrespective of which the integration of EDI and AI is the primary focus of the publication.
Sources of evidence reporting on social or healthcare settings on the AI and indicators or socio-bio markers of health equity or its related concepts, that is, diversity and inclusion, will be considered.
Types of sources
This scoping review will consider all primary research studies including reviews. We will exclude publications including commentaries, conference abstracts, editorials and individual points of view.
Information sources and search strategy
The searches will be conducted in two stages: (1) electronic database searching and (2) hand searching the reference lists and citations of included sources to identify further studies for inclusion. The detailed search strategy has been designed with the help of an expert librarian in the fields of Healthcare and Engineering at McGill University. Various electronic platforms such as MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase (Ovid), PsycInfo (Ovid), Scopus, SCI-EXPANDED, ESCI (Web of Science Core Collection), IEEEE Xplore and INSPEC will be searched. Only studies published in English and French languages will be included. The search strategy will include year 2005 to present as this marks the period from which the World Health Organization (WHO) made Health Equity a cornerstone of the Millennium Development Goals.15 A preliminary version of the search was conducted on 29 April 2022, using specific MeSH terms and keywords to assure the accuracy and sensitivity of the search to capture the relevant literature. The start date of the review is June 1st, 2023.
Selection of sources of evidence
Following the search, all identified citations will be collated and uploaded into Endnote V.9.3.3 (www.endnote.com) reference management software, and duplicates removed. A team of reviewers (MN, SAR, EE) will conduct title/abstract and full-text screening of all records considering the prespecified eligibility criteria. The study selection will follow a two-step screening process. Titles/abstracts (step 1) and full-text screening (step 2) will be screened by two independent reviewers for assessment against the inclusion and exclusion criteria for the review. All records will be screened independently by a minimum of two reviewers. Any disagreements will be resolved through discussion and a third reviewer will be involved if consensus cannot be reached. All screening will be conducted within Rayan software. For articles excluded during full-text screening, a reason for exclusion will be recorded. The selection process will be recorded in a PRISMA flow diagram.
Critical appraisal of individual sources of evidence
Assessment of the methodological quality of included studies is not a requirement of scoping reviews.22
Data charting process
Relevant data will be extracted from all included studies in the scoping review by two independent reviewers. A draft structured data recording form developed by the reviewers will be used and the information will be recorded on Microsoft Excel. The draft data extraction form will be modified and revised as necessary during the process of extracting data from each included database. Modifications will be reported in the scoping review. Any disagreements that arise between the two reviewers will be resolved through discussion with the third and fourth reviewers. The data extracted will include specific details on the author(s), year of the study, year of publication, country of study, method applied in the study, participants characteristics, objectives of the study, socioeconomic variables for measuring equity such as desegregation of data by sex, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, economic and social status, AI methods and the type of healthcare setting of application and the key findings relevant to the objectives of the scoping review. To synthesise the findings, we will conduct a thematic analysis and use a narrative description to describe the work according to the study design, any emerging patterns identified, ethical implications, as well as legal considerations. Results will be presented using tables and diagrams accompanied by a narrative summary.
Patient and public involvement
During this review, we are concentrating on gathering input from a focused group of experts. However, we deeply value the role of patient and public involvement and have ensured to integrate patient and public in the subsequent workshops, where we look forward to benefiting from a rich diversity of perspectives to enhance the quality and relevance of our work.
A stakeholder consultation is planned to validate the findings from the review, add new insights and identify gaps for further research. Stakeholders will include AI system developers, engineers, data analysts, healthcare professionals, EDI experts, researchers, patients and communities. We already have a team of experts in the research team who will further help in identifying external subject matter experts through snowballing technique. The aim of the stakeholders’ workshop will be to consolidate prior and new inter/multidisciplinary research partnerships that will map out literature and contribute to knowledge synthesis on the use of EDI concepts, principles and practices in AI technologies and related applications in healthcare with the aim of co-developing of preliminary data on EDI/AI concepts.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethical approval is not required for this study. Future dissemination related to this work will include the publication of the results in an open access peer-reviewed journal, presentations at conferences, social media and a 2-day workshops. We will report findings in line with the ‘PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews’.23
AI has the potential to improve both the patients and health professionals’ experience as well as other quintuple aim of care. However, if EDI is not considered and integrated throughout the lifecycle of AI-enabled technologies within healthcare systems, it can exacerbate the existing social and health inequalities. This scoping review will be the first to offer a comprehensive overview of how EDI considerations have been incorporated into the lifecycle of AI within healthcare settings. It will not only highlight how EDI concepts, principles and practices have been considered and integrated in AI healthcare studies, but also identify current gaps in this area. We aim to pinpoint the indicators and variables of EDI that are not considered by AI studies in healthcare thereby representing a potential area of research.
Findings from the scoping review study will be: (1) synthesised to identify the knowledge gaps in this important area, (2) disseminated to diverse stakeholders in the fields of AI and healthcare and to the public through workshops and meetings and (3) mobilised towards building a framework on ways to meaningfully integrate EDI concepts, principles and practices in the design, development and implementation of AI within healthcare.
Data availability statement
No data are available.
Patient consent for publication
MN and SAR contributed equally.
Contributors SAR, MN and EE conceived the ideas for the review and wrote the review protocol. EE and SAR provided methodological guidance and critically reviewed the protocol. PC provided a critical review of the EDI component of the protocol. All authors gave their approval for the final version of the work to be published and agreed to be accountable for the integrity of the work published.
Funding This study was funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Network for Oral and Bone Health Research. We acknowledge support from these institutions. SAR is Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Advanced Digital Primary Health Care, received salary support from a Research Scholar Junior 1 Career Development Award from the Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS), and her research program is supported by the Natural Sciences Research Council (NSERC) Discovery (grant 2020-05246).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement During this review, we are concentrating on gathering input from a focused group of experts. However, we value the role of patient and public involvement and have ensured to integrate patient and public in the subsequent workshops, where we look forward to benefiting from a rich diversity of perspectives to enhance the quality and relevance of our work.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.