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Saturday Jul 18, 2020

How to avoid bias in patient care

Implicit bias is the unconscious collection of stereotypes and attitudes that individuals develop toward certain groups of people. If left unchecked, it can affect patient relationships and care decisions.

For example, “similarity bias” can cause individuals to favor others who are like them, to show greater empathy toward them, and to use actions, words, and body language to signal feelings of relatedness. “Experience bias” can lead individuals to overestimate how much others see things the same way they do, to believe they are less vulnerable to bias than others, and to assume that their intentions are clear and obvious to others.

To avoid bias when caring for patients, the following tactics can help.

Consider other perspectives. How do things look or feel from another point of view? For example, maybe your practice’s waiting room is filled with images of people from only one race, so patients of other races don’t feel represented.

Slow down. To recognize biases, don’t rush through an interaction and respond instinctively. Instead, pause and think about what you’re feeling, why you might be reacting in a biased way, and how to react better next time.

Get to know the individual. Gather specific information about the other person to prevent stereotyping. You can likely find a shared experience (e.g., parenting), common interest (e.g., sports teams), or mutual purpose (e.g., surviving cancer) that will help you build empathy and trust.


Read the full FPM article: “How to Identify, Understand, and Unlearn Implicit Bias in Patient Care.”

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Posted at 08:00AM Jul 18, 2020 by FPM Editors

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