Kizza Chadiha, MEPN, Program Coordinator, Office of the Dean, School of Nursing on the science of unconscious bias. (Transcript)

Over the last three decades, our understanding of unconscious bias has evolved. The nature of unconscious bias is well understood, and an instrument (Implicit Association Test) to assess unconscious bias has been developed and rigorously tested.

Here’s what we know:
  • Unconscious biases develop at an early age: biases emerge during middle childhood and appear to develop across childhood (Dore, 2014).
  • Unconscious biases have real world effects on behavior (Dasgupta, 2004).
  • Unconscious biases are malleable-one can take steps to minimize the impact of unconscious bias (Dasgupta, 2013; Dasgupta & Greenwald, 2013).
A substantial amount of research has been published demonstrating impact of unconscious bias in various domains including the criminal justice system, education, and health/health care (Kirwan Institute, 2014). Bias may have an impact on: hiring, and mentoring and may contribute to healthcare disparities.

Rene Salazar, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of Diversity, Graduate Medical Education on the impact of unconscious bias. (Transcript)

For example:
  • Fictitious resumes with White-sounding names sent to help-wanted ads were more likely to receive callbacks for interviews compared to resumes with African-American sounding names. Resumes with White-sounding names received 50% more callbacks for interviews (Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004).
  • Science faculty rated male applicants for a laboratory manager position as significantly more competent and hireable than female applicants. Faculty also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant (Moss-Racusin et al, 2012).
  • Among mentored career K08 or K23 recipients – mean salary of female researchers was about $31,000 less than males (Jagsi et al., 2013).
  • Implicit bias among health care professionals can influence their behaviors and judgments (Stone & Moskowitz, 2011).
  • Since 1997, more than 30 studies have been published relevant to unconscious bias and clinical decision-making. Racial bias is prevalent among healthcare providers and it appears that race influences medical decision making of healthcare providers (Paradies, 2013).