When it comes to health care, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. This can lead to discriminatory practices and poorer health outcomes for patients. There is a growing body of evidence that shows how implicit bias can harm patient care. For example, one study found that Black patients were less likely to receive pain medication than White patients. Another study found that doctors were more likely to prescribe unnecessary tests and procedures to Black patients than White patients. These disparities in care are often a result of implicit bias. Studies have shown that doctors are more likely to see Black patients as less intelligent and more likely to be non-compliant with treatment. This can lead to lower quality of care and poorer health outcomes for Black patients. Implicit bias can also lead to disparities in access to care. For example, one study found that Black patients were less likely to be referred to a specialist than White patients. Black patients are also more likely to receive care from lower-quality hospitals and physicians. These disparities in care can have a serious impact on patients’ health. Black patients, for example, are more likely to die from cancer than White patients. They are also more likely to experience poorer health outcomes after surgery. Implicit bias is a serious problem in health care. It can lead to discriminatory practices and poorer health outcomes for patients. We need to be aware of our own biases and work to reduce them in order to improve patient care.
Dr. James Ellzy, MD, FAAFP, says that he frequently encounters double-take situations when he meets patients for the first time. Even the most highly regarded medical professionals have an indirect bias (or unintentional bias). Because physicians are typically white and male, their assumptions about patients can lead to inappropriate treatments. Negative stereotypes are formed when the brain processes information based on characteristics such as race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. White clinicians who are unaware of implicit biases about race typically exhibit them regardless of their prejudice. Un unintended bias has been demonstrated to be a significant problem in research studies. According to a study, patients with cancer who rated high in implicit bias had fewer interactions with their oncologists.
A physician’s bias level and patient confidence in recommended treatments were also examined in the study. As a result, doctors, who have been trained to view and treat patients as equally, are concerned about the concept. Penner contends that a doctor’s initial encounter with an African-American patient may be indicative of implicit bias. Excessive levels of stress, distractions, and brief visits can make doctors susceptible to unintentional biases. According to experts, the main goal should be to reduce the impact on doctor-patient interactions. The fact that it is pervasive is advantageous to people who have received training on implicit bias. David Allen, an Ohio State University professor, discovered that the training made him more sensitive to patients.
Now, I’m more sensitive to tailoring my care plans to the patient’s treatment preferences, which could mean they are more aggressive or less aggressive. Being unable to spend a lot of time with your patients can have a negative impact on your ability to be mindful. It can also help physicians develop empathy for and build relationships with their patients. To counter unintentional bias, it is also a good idea to undermine stereotypes.
Having a basic understanding of the cultural backgrounds of the patients you care for can help you reduce implicit bias. It is critical to avoid stereotyping and to divide your patients. A person must recognize and be aware of the magnitude of unconscious bias.
A 2015 study discovered that the vast majority of heterosexual healthcare professionals implicitly preferred straight people over lesbians and gays. In addition, a study published in 2019 found that 80% of medical students had an implicit bias against lesbians and gays.
Implicit biases have been linked to healthcare disparities, and while they are likely to have a negative impact on stigmatized patients, their findings have not been fully tested.