Unconscious bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. A large body of compellingresearch has demonstrated how unconscious, automatically activated and pervasive mental processes manifest across a variety of contexts. The impact of unconscious bias is significant. For example, unconscious bias can impact patient-provider relationships and treatment recommendations, both of which contribute to health and health care disparities.
Unconscious bias also impacts hiring and evaluation practices and contribute to the lack of workforce diversity. At UCSF we are committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty, staff, students, and trainees; however, less than 10% of residents and fellows are from racial and ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine.
Less than 3% of UCSF faculty self-identify as African American/black and only 5% are Latino. Unconscious bias likely contributes to these trends.
A majority of research has explored the impact of unconscious racial bias; however it’s important to recognize that individuals may have unconscious bias towards those from other groups. One’s age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and many other characteristics may be susceptible to bias from others.
Over the last two decades, a substantial amount of research (over 5,000 studies) has been conducted and provides a better understanding of the nature of unconscious bias. Fortunately, this enhanced understanding has led to the development of strategies to assess and address unconscious bias.
The UCSF Office of Diversity and Outreach and Clinical and Translational Science Institute have developed this website to educate individuals on this important topic. I invite you to explore this site to learn more about the current state of the science on unconscious bias. We’ve also included a summary of strategies to assess and address unconscious bias along with a list of resources and references for those interested in learning more. There is a section to sign up for unconscious bias trainings sessions led by a team from the UCSF Office of Diversity and Outreach.
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