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How Implicit Bias Impacts Healthcare Delivery & What You Can Do About It

implicit bias and healthcare delivery

Implicit (or unconscious) happens when our actions, behaviors, or judgments are influenced by stereotypes without our conscious awareness or control. In the context of healthcare, implicit bias can have a significant impact on the quality of care and patient experience.

Download our printable infographic on 4 ways to Address Implicit Bias

Implicit bias in healthcare

Healthcare providers, like everyone else, are susceptible to implicit biases. These biases can manifest in several ways, from assuming that certain patients are non-compliant or exaggerating their symptoms to dismissing their concerns altogether. These biases can lead to misdiagnosis, delayed or inappropriate treatment, and other adverse outcomes.

Patients from marginalized communities are often the most affected by implicit bias in healthcare due to stereotypes and assumptions about their race, ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic status.

Implicit bias and healthcare quality

For example, studies have shown that Black patients are less likely to receive adequate pain management than White patients due to a belief among healthcare providers that Black patients have a higher pain tolerance. Similarly, women are more likely to be dismissed as "emotional" or "hysterical" when presenting with pain or other symptoms, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment. Studies have also shown that implicit bias can lead to lower-quality care for LGBTQ+ patientspatients with disabilities, and other groups.

Implicit bias and patient experience

Implicit bias can also negatively impact the communication between healthcare providers and patients and lead to a poor patient experience. Patients who perceive bias may feel less trust in their healthcare providers, be less likely to follow medical advice, and be less likely to seek care in the future. This can lead to worse health outcomes and more significant health disparities. Moreover, the stress of experiencing bias can have a direct negative impact on health.

4 ways healthcare providers can address implicit bias

There are several strategies that healthcare providers and organizations can adopt to mitigate the impact of implicit bias. Download a printable infographic of the tips below.

  1. Through training, education, and open discussions, healthcare providers can raise awareness of implicit bias and its effects on healthcare quality and patient outcomes.
  2. Healthcare providers can adopt evidence-based practices and clinical guidelines that make them less susceptible to bias in professional settings.
  3. Healthcare providers can ensure that they provide culturally competent care that considers diverse patient populations' unique needs and perspectives.
  4. Healthcare organizations can implement policies and procedures promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), such as hiring practices prioritizing diversity and patient satisfaction surveys assessing bias.


Implicit bias is a significant healthcare issue that can adversely impact healthcare quality and patient experience, particularly for marginalized groups. Addressing implicit bias requires a multifaceted approach that includes implicit bias training and DEI work to improve diversity and representation in healthcare. We can work towards a more equitable and just healthcare system for all by taking these steps.


Implicit Bias Course