M^3Fair: Mitigating Bias in Healthcare Data through Multi-Level and Multi-Sensitive-Attribute Reweighting Method

by   Yinghao Zhu, et al.

In the data-driven artificial intelligence paradigm, models heavily rely on large amounts of training data. However, factors like sampling distribution imbalance can lead to issues of bias and unfairness in healthcare data. Sensitive attributes, such as race, gender, age, and medical condition, are characteristics of individuals that are commonly associated with discrimination or bias. In healthcare AI, these attributes can play a significant role in determining the quality of care that individuals receive. For example, minority groups often receive fewer procedures and poorer-quality medical care than white individuals in US. Therefore, detecting and mitigating bias in data is crucial to enhancing health equity. Bias mitigation methods include pre-processing, in-processing, and post-processing. Among them, Reweighting (RW) is a widely used pre-processing method that performs well in balancing machine learning performance and fairness performance. RW adjusts the weights for samples within each (group, label) combination, where these weights are utilized in loss functions. However, RW is limited to considering only a single sensitive attribute when mitigating bias and assumes that each sensitive attribute is equally important. This may result in potential inaccuracies when addressing intersectional bias. To address these limitations, we propose M3Fair, a multi-level and multi-sensitive-attribute reweighting method by extending the RW method to multiple sensitive attributes at multiple levels. Our experiments on real-world datasets show that the approach is effective, straightforward, and generalizable in addressing the healthcare fairness issues.


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