Race & Gender Bias in Medicine



Research Summary

Race and gender bias in clinical practice is a persistent cause of healthcare disparities. We investigated the potential of a peer-network approach to reduce bias in medical treatment decisions within an experimental setting. We created “egalitarian” information exchange networks among practicing clinicians who provided recommendations for the clinical management of patient scenarios, presented via standardized patient videos of actors portraying patients with cardiac chest pain. The videos, which were standardized for relevant clinical factors, presented either a white male actor or Black female actor of similar age, wearing the same attire and in the same clinical setting, portraying a patient with clinically significant chest pain symptoms. We found significant disparities in the treatment recommendations given to the white male patient-actor and Black female patient-actor, which when translated into real clinical scenarios would result in the Black female patient being significantly more likely to receive unsafe undertreatment, rather than the guideline-recommended treatment physicians and institutions can improve the accuracy of medical diagnoses.