Gov. Spends $387K to Study 'Unconscious' Racism of Doctors

Brittany M. Hughes | September 15, 2015

Photo credit: Getty Images

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

The federal government just awarded a $386,597 grant, courtesy of the American taxpayer, to the University of Arizona to study and train doctors who don’t know they’re racist against Hispanics to stop being racist against Hispanics.

According to the grant, which was awarded by the National Institute of Health:

Research shows that while stereotyping, prejudice and acts of discrimination can be conscious and deliberate, the expression of bias among healthcare providers is often unintentional because many hold negative attitudes and stereotypes at an implicit or unconscious level. Thus, implicit verbal and nonverbal biases may leak into the way residents interact with Hispanic patients, but training residents to control thei (sic.) verbal and nonverbal implicit biases can mitigate the negative effect on patients during a clinical encounter.


The project description also implies that an inherently racist doctor who doesn’t know he’s racist might not be able to stop being racist – however, he might be able to control his racism, which he doesn't know he has.

Reducing the expression of implicit verbal and nonverbal biases, including implicit linguistic biases, during a clinical encounter, however, can be achieved by training residents in the psychology of implicit bias, how it is communicated during a clinical encounter, and how they can control their verbal and nonverbal expressions of implicit bias when they interact with Hispanic patients.

The grant request explains the project will be broken down into three studies. The first will observe medical residents to observe their unconscious racism. The second study will help these doctors understand their accidental racism by “training [them] in the psychology of implicit bias.” The third study will try and figure out if teaching doctors how racist they apparently are keeps them from showing it so much.

The five-year project hopes to “improve patient satisfaction ratings when medial residents interact with Hispanic patients.”