Improving Fairness of Automated Chest X-ray Diagnosis by Contrastive Learning


Purpose: Limited studies exploring concrete methods or approaches to tackle and enhance model fairness in the radiology domain. Our proposed AI model utilizes supervised contrastive learning to minimize bias in CXR diagnosis.
Materials and Methods: In this retrospective study, we evaluated our proposed method on two datasets: the Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center (MIDRC) dataset with 77,887 CXR images from 27,796 patients collected as of April 20, 2023 for COVID-19 diagnosis, and the NIH Chest X-ray (NIH-CXR) dataset with 112,120 CXR images from 30,805 patients collected between 1992 and 2015. In the NIH-CXR dataset, thoracic abnormalities include atelectasis, cardiomegaly, effusion, infiltration, mass, nodule, pneumonia, pneumothorax, consolidation, edema, emphysema, fibrosis, pleural thickening, or hernia. Our proposed method utilizes supervised contrastive learning with carefully selected positive and negative samples to generate fair image embeddings, which are fine-tuned for subsequent tasks to reduce bias in chest X-ray (CXR) diagnosis. We evaluated the methods using the marginal AUC difference (δ mAUC).
Results: The proposed model showed a significant decrease in bias across all subgroups when compared to the baseline models, as evidenced by a paired T-test (p<0.0001). The δ mAUC obtained by our method were 0.0116 (95% CI, 0.0110-0.0123), 0.2102 (95% CI, 0.2087-0.2118), and 0.1000 (95% CI, 0.0988-0.1011) for sex, race, and age on MIDRC, and 0.0090 (95% CI, 0.0082-0.0097) for sex and 0.0512 (95% CI, 0.0512-0.0532) for age on NIH-CXR, respectively.
Conclusion: Employing supervised contrastive learning can mitigate bias in CXR diagnosis, addressing concerns of fairness and reliability in deep learning-based diagnostic methods.

arXiv preprint