Addressing Unconscious Bias in Healthcare

Highlights from the Unconscious Bias in Healthcare Symposium | Oct. 14, 2022


UNCONSCIOUS BIAS AND ITS HARMFUL IMPACT 3X MORE LIKELY Bias in healthcare — whether on the part of individuals (i.e., unconscious bias) or structurally built into medical education, algorithms, treatment protocols and devices — is well-documented by researchers and is known to be a key contributor to adverse health outcomes. 1 As just one of many examples, today, in the United States, non-Hispanic Black women are nearly three times more likely to die from preventable or treatable pregnancy-related complications than white women. 2 BUILDING EVIDENCE-BASED STANDARDS In recent years, unconscious bias training in healthcare has gained increasing recognition from policymakers and clinicians alike, however there is little evidence on its effectiveness. If policies are implemented without sufficient criteria for selecting effective anti-bias interventions, guidance on measuring impact and assuring accountability, opportunities will be missed to truly effect change. THE RECOMMENDED APPROACH

Unconscious bias is a substantial driver of inequity in health care. While the impact of unconscious bias in healthcare is well- documented, clear guidance on how to effectively mitigate it is not. On Oct. 14, 2022, the Sutter Health Institute for Advancing Health Equity, the California Medical Association, California Primary Care Association and Physicians for a Healthy California co-hosted a symposium aimed at changing that. Health equity experts, policymakers, clinicians, researchers and community leaders assembled for a day of focused discussion and problem solving around ways to advance effective mitigation strategies and interventions to reduce unconscious bias in healthcare settings and its detrimental impact on patients. Insights from the symposium will inform the development of interventions and recommendations to help establish future unconscious bias mitigation strategies that are measurable and effective. These tangible insights will be published in early 2023 to help providers move closer to achieving the intended goal – improved and equitable outcomes for patients.

Identify effective unconscious bias mitigation strategies.


Engage marginalized communities to guide the development of bias mitigation strategies.


Conduct comparative studies to determine which strategies are most effective.

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Develop evidence-based standards and recommendations.


Implement the most effective strategies across the healthcare space.


1 Chapman, E., MD; Kaatz, A. MA, MPH, PhD; Carnes, M. MD, MS. Physicians and Implicit Bias: How Doctors May Unwittingly Perpetuate Health Care Disparities, 2013 April. National Library of Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/ s11606-013-2441-1 Vyas, D.A., M.D.; Eisenstein, L.G., M.D.; Jones, D.S., M.D., Ph.D. Hidden in Plain Sight — Reconsidering the Use of Race Correction in Clinical Algorithms, 2020 August. The New England Journal of Medicine 2020; 383:874-882DOI: 10.1056/NEJMms2004740 2 Hoyert DL. Maternal mortality rates in the United States, 2020. NCHS Health E-Stats. 2022. DOI: https://www.

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