I n a first of its kind study conducted by the American Public Health Association (APHA) researchers have shown that doctors unconsciously favor white patients over black patients. The study was taken by 400,000 participants, 2500 of which identified themselves as physicians. The actual test can be found on the website Project Implicit.
It should be noted that other professionals such as lawyers and other people with doctoral degrees have demonstrated the same bias. Furthermore the research does not imply or show that physicians or these other highly educated people are racists. Interestingly enough when comparing the data from African-American doctors that took the test there was no bias towards white of black patients.
The news was printed in the LA Times and as you can imagine it sparked some heated comments from readers. Below is one reader's comment:
"I am so sick and tired of racist ignorant white people. guess ignorance is bliss whether you are a doctor or not and It is always the same damn excuse oh they don't know they are being racist but yet for black people "they always complain" give me a break, if black doctors can remain neutral does that mean they are smarter than those racist white doctors? Although not all white doctors are, I have a wonderful one for many years and feels comfortable with him. In addition, you would think that these doctors would be the first to know that if you remove one's skin pigmentation, underneath all human beings are the same thing."
While this type of research may be of some benefit for those in academia, I wonder how much value this news adds to today's healthcare equation? Like it or not people are biased whether they show it or not. The big question here with this type of study is does this underlying bias that some physicians have effect the quality of care that is provided to patients?