Risks, Benefits, and Complexities: Reporting Race & Ethnicity in Forensic Mental Health Reports

Christina L. Riggs Romaine*, Antoinette E Kavanaugh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In legal systems with complex disparities and potential biases, the reporting of the evaluee’s race or ethnicity (ERE) in the written forensic mental health report (FMHR) has both risks and benefits, yet few resources provide guidance on when and how to include this information. Available information suggests current practice in reporting ERE varies widely, and few recommendations and best practices guidelines exist. This article examines the available information and explores reasons for and against including ERE in the FMHR, examining how each fits with established principles of assessment. Benefits and potential consequences of including ERE, including implicit bias, the potential for stereotype threat and the problems with colorblind approaches, are discussed. Available research suggests carefully considered practice is required and decisions to include ERE should be based on a culturally competent weighing of relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-152
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Forensic Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019


  • Forensic assessment
  • bias
  • ethnicity
  • race
  • report writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Risks, Benefits, and Complexities: Reporting Race & Ethnicity in Forensic Mental Health Reports'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this