Assessment of biases against Latinos and African Americans among primary care providers and community members

Am J Public Health. 2013 Jan;103(1):92-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300812. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


Objectives: We assessed implicit and explicit bias against both Latinos and African Americans among experienced primary care providers (PCPs) and community members (CMs) in the same geographic area.

Methods: Two hundred ten PCPs and 190 CMs from 3 health care organizations in the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area completed Implicit Association Tests and self-report measures of implicit and explicit bias, respectively.

Results: With a 60% participation rate, the PCPs demonstrated substantial implicit bias against both Latinos and African Americans, but this was no different from CMs. Explicit bias was largely absent in both groups. Adjustment for background characteristics showed the PCPs had slightly weaker ethnic/racial bias than CMs.

Conclusions: This research provided the first evidence of implicit bias against Latinos in health care, as well as confirming previous findings of implicit bias against African Americans. Lack of substantive differences in bias between the experienced PCPs and CMs suggested a wider societal problem. At the same time, the wide range of implicit bias suggested that bias in health care is neither uniform nor inevitable, and important lessons might be learned from providers who do not exhibit bias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Colorado
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Racism / ethnology*
  • Stereotyped Behavior
  • Workforce
  • Young Adult