Implicit Racial Bias Exists, But Doesn't Affect Treatment

July 18, 2008

Implicit racial bias is present in pediatricians, but is not associated with differences in treatment decisions, according to an article published in the July issue of Medical Care.

FRIDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Implicit racial bias is present in pediatricians, but is not associated with differences in treatment decisions, according to an article published in the July issue of Medical Care.

Janice A. Sabin, Ph.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues surveyed academic pediatricians at one medical center to determine if implicit racial bias exists among pediatricians and if implicit racial bias is associated with quality of care.

An implicit preference for European Americans compared to African Americans was found, although the association was weaker than with other groups of physicians, the researchers report. There was also an implicit preference for European Americans compared to African Americans related to the "compliant patient" concept. While medical care differed by race for one of four clinical vignettes presented, no significant relationship was found between the implicit measures and treatment recommendations, the report indicates.

"Identifying implicit associations among health care providers, such as an 'implicit perceived compliance and race' stereotype and incorporating methods to change implicit bias into clinical training may be one approach to improving quality of care delivered to minority populations," the authors write.

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