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


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.

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

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Correspondence to Diana J. Burgess PhD.

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Burgess, D.J., Warren, J., Phelan, S. et al. Stereotype Threat and Health Disparities: What Medical Educators and Future Physicians Need to Know. J GEN INTERN MED 25, 169–177 (2010).

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  • stereotypes
  • disparities
  • experience
  • performance
  • training