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Health Care Professionals Exhibit Gender Bias

Biases associate men with careers and surgery and women with family and family medicine

THURSDAY, July 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Survey results show that health care professionals have implicit and explicit gender bias, according to a study published online July 5 in JAMA Network Open.

Arghavan Salles, M.D., Ph.D., from Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues assessed the Gender-Career Implicit Association Test (IAT) results, as part of Project Implicit, to see how mental associations shaped by the environment influence interactions with other health professionals.

Based on assessment of almost 1 million IAT records from Project Implicit and 131 responses from surgeons recruited to complete the Gender-Specialty IAT, the researchers found that health care professionals (42,991 participants; 82 percent female; mean age, 32.7 years) held implicit and explicit biases associating men with career and women with family. Results were similar for the 131 surgeons and showed implicit and explicit biases associating men with surgery and women with family medicine. Results showed broad consensus across social groups in implicit and explicit biases, except for women in health care who were less likely than men to explicitly associate men with career and surgery or women with family and family medicine.

“Awareness of the existence of implicit biases is an important first step toward minimizing their potential effect,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Medtronic; one author reported serving as the director of research for Project Implicit.

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