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Effect of History and Context on Forensic Pathologist Interpretation of Photographs of Patterned Injury of the Skin

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences: Volume: 62 Issue: 6 Dated: 2017 Pages: 1500-1505
Date Published
6 pages
This article reports on the findings of the third in a series of surveys that composed a study of forensic pathologists' interpretation of the same photographs of patterned injury of the skin, first without and then with information on the history or context of the injury.

In a previous study, a survey based analysis of pathologists' diagnoses of patterned injury was performed. Subjects were provided with photographs of "classic" injuries and asked to diagnose the lesion in the absence of history or context. There was a relatively low diagnostic consensus among respondents. A second survey suggested that the disparate answers were not due to a strong belief in different diagnoses, but instead reflected how the respondents dealt with ambiguity. A third survey was created that asked participants to evaluate patterned injuries of the skin, but provided history and contextual information. The addition of history and contextual information increased consensus from a median of 80 percent to 98 percent on a per question basis. Confidence increased from a median of 56%-92%. These results demonstrate the importance of history and context in medical diagnosis of patterned injuries of the skin. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017