Unconscious bias and the value of training for medical students

Lori Graham, Anna Graham, Courtney West


The term unconscious (implicit) bias and its possible effects in multiple disciplines has been recognised for some time (Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman, 2012; Sabin, Rivara, & Greenwald, 2008). In medical education, implicit bias is especially important since it may impact quality of care (Goldyne, 2007). Therefore, some institutions are beginning to integrate training for students to illuminate biases and develop strategies to manage them. 

As a part of a reciprocal best practices exchange with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), stemming from an NIH grant partnership, Texas A&M Health Science Center (HSC) College of Medicine (COM) replicated an implicit associations (IA) workshop that has taken place at BCM for a number of years. Texas A&M HSC COM attended training through BCM, slightly revised shared materials and then implemented the activity. The purpose was to determine whether or not the workshop, including small group discussions at Texas A&M HSC COM, effectively enabled students to identify possible unconscious biases and to discuss their potential impact on patient care. 


education medical; undergraduate; biases; training

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Goldyne, A. J. (2007). Minimizing the influence of unconscious bias in evaluations: A practical guide. The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 35(1), 60–66.

Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J., Brescoll, V., Graham, M., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(41), 16474–16479.

Sabin, J., Rivara, F., & Greenwald, A. (2008). Physician implicit attitudes and stereotypes about race and quality of medical care. Medical Care, 46(7), 678–685.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/fohpe.v17i2.138


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