Identifying Potential Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias impacts clinical care and teaching, and there are strategies to identify and measure personal unconscious bias. Becoming aware of specific unconscious biases can often feel uncomfortable or disconcerting, but knowing about personal bias can be an initial step to implementing strategies to manage and mitigate the effects of implicit bias.

The most widely used tests to measure unconscious or implicit bias are the Implicit Associations Tests (IATs). These tests have been used in many different populations for years, including physician populations. They are free to use and publicly available. Another way to learn about unconscious bias in health care and teaching is to read research articles that examine how physicians and educators demonstrate behavior that is biased and how this can negatively impact interpersonal encounters. The number of articles published on the topic has increased dramatically since 2010. Identifying unconscious bias in clinical care and teaching can occur on a personal level and more broadly.

Quick Tips

  • Take Implicit Association Tests to learn about your own unconscious bias
  • Discuss your results on IATs with coworkers, family, or friends
  • Read review articles that examine unconscious bias in clinical and teaching settings

Authors: Sean P Haley, MD MPH, Amanda Kost, MD MEd

References
  1. Wyatt R, Laderman M, Botwinick L, Mate K, Whittington J. Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations. IHI White Paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2016. (Available at ihi.org)