Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 882–887

Reducing Racial Bias Among Health Care Providers: Lessons from Social-Cognitive Psychology

  • Diana Burgess
  • Michelle van Ryn
  • John Dovidio
  • Somnath Saha

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-007-0160-1

Cite this article as:
Burgess, D., van Ryn, M., Dovidio, J. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2007) 22: 882. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0160-1


The paper sets forth a set of evidence-based recommendations for interventions to combat unintentional bias among health care providers, drawing upon theory and research in social cognitive psychology. Our primary aim is to provide a framework that outlines strategies and skills, which can be taught to medical trainees and practicing physicians, to prevent unconscious racial attitudes and stereotypes from negatively influencing the course and outcomes of clinical encounters. These strategies and skills are designed to: l) enhance internal motivation to reduce bias, while avoiding external pressure; 2) increase understanding about the psychological basis of bias; 3) enhance providers’ confidence in their ability to successfully interact with socially dissimilar patients; 4) enhance emotional regulation skills; and 5) improve the ability to build partnerships with patients. We emphasize the need for programs to provide a nonthreatening environment in which to practice new skills and the need to avoid making providers ashamed of having racial, ethnic, or cultural stereotypes. These recommendations are also intended to provide a springboard for research on interventions to reduce unintentional racial bias in health care.


provider behavior disparities race ethnicity social cognition 

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Burgess
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michelle van Ryn
    • 1
    • 3
  • John Dovidio
    • 4
  • Somnath Saha
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research (a VA HSR&D Center of Excellence)Veterans Affairs Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family Medicine and Community HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  5. 5.Section of General Internal Medicine, Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of MedicineOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA

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