Friday, January 14, 2011

Examining racial and ethnic stereotypes in health care

DISCUSSING DISPARITIES: Hicks, left, and Green

OFTEN WITHOUT BEING AWARE OF IT, individuals can rely on preconceived ideas about others based on how that other person appears. Sometimes these stereotypes and resulting discrimination can extend into other areas of life, such as receiving or delivering health care.

To examine these "implicit biases," the MGH Disparities Solutions Center (DSC) and Multicultural Affairs Office (MAO) co-hosted "Crash: Stereotypes in Society … and Health Care?" on Dec. 15 in the O’Keeffe Auditorium. More than 50 guests attended the event, which began with screenings of segments from the movie “Crash” and an episode of ABC 20/20’s “Race and Sex –What We Think, But Can’t Say.” The screenings were followed by a panel discussion with Alexander Green, MD, MPH, associate director of the DSC and lead author of "Implicit Bias among Physicians and its Prediction of Thrombolysis Decisions for Black and White Patients," and LeRoi Hicks, MD, MPH, an assistant professor in Medicine in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at BWH and a lecturer in Health Care Policy at HMS.

"Studies have shown that, while we may not think we have these internal biases, in reality, we may," says Green. "The goal of the event was to raise awareness about these implicit biases in ourselves as individuals and especially as health care providers. It was a very interesting discussion that raised many questions and helped to put our ideas into perspective."

For more information about the DSC, access For information about MAO, visit To learn more about unconscious biases, take an Implicit Association Test at

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