DOI: 10.29045/14784726.2023. ISSN:

A scoping review exploring the confidence of healthcare professionals in assessing all skin tones

Juliet Harrison
  • General Engineering

Background: Health inequalities and poorer outcomes have been identified for patients with dark skin tones. The reasons are multi-factorial, but may include delayed treatment due to a lack of recognition of early clinical signs of physiological deterioration. Within the medical literature there is a light skin tone bias, leading to healthcare professionals having insufficient knowledge regarding the assessment of patients with different skin tones, which may result in reduced confidence and create patient safety issues. The aim of this scoping review was to explore the confidence levels of healthcare professionals when assessing patients of different skin tones.Methods: The methodology followed scoping review frameworks set out by Arksey and O’Malley (2005), the Joanna Briggs Institute (Peters et al., 2020) and the PRISMA extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) (Tricco et al., 2018). Searches for literature were performed between February and June 2022 using electronic databases EBSCO (Academic Search Complete, the Allied Complementary Medicine Database, e-journals, MEDLINE, CINAHL), British Nursing Index (ProQuest), Scopus, Web of Science, Zetoc, UpToDate, Google Scholar, NICE Evidence, ResearchGate, Opengrey and the British Association of Dermatologists. No date range was specified, expanders were left on and the findings were screened using inclusion and exclusion criteria. Included papers were synthesised using narrative synthesis.Results: Thirteen papers were identified, and the extracted data charted by the paper’s origin, sample size, profession and confidence levels. Our synthesis revealed reduced confidence in assessing, managing and diagnosing skin conditions in dark skin tones. A lack of training was cited by different health professionals, but undertaking tailored training and experiential learning increased confidence.Conclusions: There is a safety issue for patients with dark skin tones, as healthcare professionals lack clinical confidence in managing and treating all ethnicities equally. Tangible diversity within healthcare training is required, supported by inclusive skin tone imagery and appropriate terminology within medical literature.

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