Does Racism Play a Role in Health Inequities?

David R. Williams, PhD, MPH; Professor of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Have trouble viewing this video? Read the transcript.

This is the third video in an 8-part series. Click here to watch the next video and learn how providers can reduce unconscious bias.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:

  • Describe the effect of race and ethnicity on quality of care.
  • Discuss the role of implicit bias in the quality of care for minority patients.
  • Explain how implicit bias develops as part of normal cognition.

Description: David R. Williams, Professor of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has been researching health inequities in the United States for two decades. In this video, he sits down with Don Berwick, MD, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow at IHI, to talk about the effect of racism — both conscious and unconscious — on quality of care for people of color.

Watch the full conversation on YouTube.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you think implicit bias toward minority groups plays out in clinical interactions?
  2. Can you think of any examples of how American society characterizes people of color or other minority groups?
  3. Do you think you have any unintentional prejudices? How do you feel about the possibility that you are a prejudiced person?
  4. Have you learned any strategies to reduce the effect of implicit bias on quality of care? What do you think might help?
  5. “Every society has ‘in’ groups and ‘out’ groups,” says Williams. How do you think people’s “groups” affect their health?
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