The Bias of Physicians and Lack of Education in Patients of Color With Melanoma as Causes of Increased Mortality: A Scoping Review

Cureus. 2022 Nov 19;14(11):e31669. doi: 10.7759/cureus.31669. eCollection 2022 Nov.


Minorities, particularly non-White minorities, often encounter implicit biases from healthcare professionals that may impact their standard of care and quality of life. The study of dermatology has long been based on Whites, unintentionally affecting the treatment of non-White patients. Melanoma, although mostly curable, can become fatal in those presenting with advanced stages at diagnosis. Despite being rare in racial minorities, melanoma is associated with a worse prognosis among them compared to White populations. In light of this, the objective of this study was to determine the role of education in preventing biases and improving the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma in minority groups to improve patient outcomes. This study was designed as a scoping review to gather evidence on the impact of implicit bias and lack of education on the treatment of melanoma in people of color. Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, we searched for peer-reviewed studies involving melanoma, education, and treatment bias in people of color on the databases PubMed, Medline EBSCO, CINAHL, and Cochrane. The data were extracted pertaining to the following main aspects: (1) risk factors, (2) surveys of current knowledge, and 3) educational interventions. This scoping review identified socioeconomic factors, bias, and lack of education in minority populations as causes of increased mortality rates in melanoma. Moreover, because preventative dermatology is largely based on White skin types, incorporating darker skin tones into education will help dispel implicit bias. Additionally, there is evidence to indicate that current patient knowledge and understanding of skin cancer is inaccurate among many and can be significantly improved through educational interventions, such as brochures and videos. Further educational interventions may be beneficial to increase understanding of melanoma in populations of color to address health disparities in dermatological care.

Keywords: bias; blacks; dermatology; health disparity; melanoma; minority patients; skin color.

Publication types

  • Review