Why do providers contribute to disparities and what can be done about it?

J Gen Intern Med. 2004 Nov;19(11):1154-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30227.x.


This paper applies social cognition research to understanding and ameliorating the provider contribution to racial/ethnic disparities in health care. We discuss how fundamental cognitive mechanisms such as automatic, unconscious processes (e.g., stereotyping) can help explain provider bias. Even well-intentioned providers who are motivated to be nonprejudiced may stereotype racial/ethnic minority members, particularly under conditions of that diminish cognitive capacity. These conditions-time pressure, fatigue, and information overload-are frequently found in health care settings. We conclude with implications of the social-cognitive perspective for developing interventions to reduce provider bias.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prejudice*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stereotyping*
  • White People