Congestive Heart Failure and Depression: Are medical professionals biased towards CHF patients with depression?

Katie Schumacher head shot

Name: Katie Schumacher
Major: Psychology
Minor: Biology
Advisor: Bryan Karazsia; Amber Garcia (second reader)

Many studies indicate that medical professionals are biased toward patients based on patient characteristics, such as racial identity, gender identity, and physical or other abilities (e.g., Iezzoni et al., 2021). However, no studies examine if healthcare providers demonstrate systematically different diagnostic approaches based on mental health presentation. In this study, I recruited healthcare professionals to provide their diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations for either a patient with congestive heart failure (CHF) or a patient with CHF and depression symptoms. The findings suggest that medical professionals responded differentially to the same CHF presentation when presented in isolation versus comorbid symptoms of depression. However, the patterns did not always align with presenting symptoms. This study highlights the importance of advancing diagnostic processes at the intersection of physical and mental health.

I chose this topic for my independent study because I aspire to become a physician assistant, and the medical field excites me. The results of my research highlighted a disparity within the medical system and the importance of medical professional’s looking at the totality of the patient’s presentation. This opportunity allowed me to learn from medical professionals, which has been a valuable experience.

Keywords: congestive heart failure, depression, diagnosis

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 14, 2023.

5 responses to “Congestive Heart Failure and Depression: Are medical professionals biased towards CHF patients with depression?”

  1. Beth Schumacher says:

    Great job! Your hard work and dedication on your IS are a few of the many reasons you will be a great PA. Your passion and love for the healthcare field are evident in everything you do. We are so proud of you.

  2. Bryan Karazsia says:

    Katie – Your project is bringing an important perspective to this field…and I really believe you will continue to make big impacts as you continue your development as a health professional! Your perspective and desire to consider health as holistic is deeply needed and appreciated.

    Enjoy your day!

  3. Kathleen Varley says:

    Fantastic job Katie!!
    You are already making significant contributions to the healthcare industry. We look forward to your very bright future.

  4. Katie Schumacher says:

    Thank you so much, Dr. Karazsia! I have really enjoyed working with you this past year. I really appreciate all of your help!

  5. Katie Schumacher says:

    Thank you so much, Mrs. Varley! It means a lot!

Related Posts

Alix Printup '23

I.S. research explores psychology’s approach to historical trauma within Indigenous community

Audrey Klosterman '23

Theatre student examines and executes stage adaptation

Zoe Seymour '23

‘Overlooked Adoptees’ I.S. research earns Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award at the Senior Research Symposium

Related Areas of Study


Do research, work with faculty mentors, and tailor a psychology program to your interests

Major Minor


Explore molecular and cellular biology, ecology and more with top faculty and access to extensive lab facilities.

Major Minor

Connect with Wooster