How Implicit Biases in the Healthcare System Harm Health

Implicit biases in the healthcare system, as a form of interpersonal racism, influence patient-physician interactions and can lead to a lower quality of care.
Physicians with a higher score on the Implicit Association Test are more likely to provide biased treatment recommendations to Black and Latine patients. Black and Latine patients receive fewer procedures and inferior quality medical care than whites across various diagnostic and treatment interventions. Also, physicians with implicit biases are more likely to communicate poorly with their patients. This low-quality patient-provider interaction results in patients of color receiving inadequate care. When doctors offer a lower quality of care and discriminatory treatment to Black and Latine patients, these decisions shape patient health outcomes and lead to racial health disparities – including shorter and sicker lives for people of color.