Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 25, Supplement 2, pp 169–177 | Cite as

Stereotype Threat and Health Disparities: What Medical Educators and Future Physicians Need to Know

  • Diana J. BurgessEmail author
  • Jennifer Warren
  • Sean Phelan
  • John Dovidio
  • Michelle van Ryn


Patients’ experience of stereotype threat in clinical settings and encounters may be one contributor to health care disparities. Stereotype threat occurs when cues in the environment make negative stereotypes associated with an individual’s group status salient, triggering physiological and psychological processes that have detrimental consequences for behavior. By recognizing and understanding the factors that can trigger stereotype threat and understanding its consequences in medical settings, providers can prevent it from occurring or ameliorate its consequences for patient behavior and outcomes. In this paper, we discuss the implications of stereotype threat for medical education and trainee performance and offer practical suggestions for how future providers might reduce stereotype threat in their exam rooms and clinics.


stereotypes disparities experience performance training 



This work was supported by a VA HSR&D Merit Review Entry Program award to Diana Burgess, Ph.D.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana J. Burgess
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jennifer Warren
    • 3
  • Sean Phelan
    • 4
  • John Dovidio
    • 5
  • Michelle van Ryn
    • 6
  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 CommunicationSchool of Communication and Information, RutgersNew BrunswickUSA
  4. 4.Division of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  6. 6.Department of Family Medicine and Community HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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