Implicit (subconscious) bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.
We have all been exposed to "the negative narratives about racial minorities that circulate in society—discourses that become the stuff of unconscious negative attitudes about racial groups. [Health care providers], like the rest of the American public, have implicit biases. They have views about racial minorities of which they are not consciously aware—views that lead them to make unintentional, and ultimately harmful, judgments about people of color." (Source)
When there’s a conflict between a person’s explicit and implicit attitudes—when people say they’re not prejudiced but give subtle signals that they are, for example—those on the receiving end may be left anxious and confused. Additionally, implicit bias against specifically the black / African American community leads to poorer care, less medicine prescribed, and large health disparities within this community. (Source)
Implicit bias in individual interactions can be addressed and countered if we become aware of our bias and take actions to redirect our responses. (Source)
“Black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s.” “Black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s.” “Black people’s blood coagulates more quickly than white people’s.”
False ideas about black peoples’ experience of pain can lead to worrisome treatment disparities. A 2016 study found that "half of white medical trainees believe such myths as black people have thicker skin or less sensitive nerve endings than white people...These disturbing beliefs are not long-forgotten 19th-century relics" but realities within the United States health care system.
Due to explicit and implicit bias, black patients: