Lessons Learned from Implementing Unconscious Bias Training at an Academic Medical Center
Keywords:unconscious bias, training, implicit bias
Introduction. In 2018, our Midwestern university medical center began offering unconscious bias training. Each session concluded with a standard evaluation. We analyzed two years of data that focused on three areas: 1) whether demographic differences or amount of prior knowledge on the topic influenced the training experience; 2) what participants liked best about the training; and 3) whether participants’ stated intentions to apply their learning at the end of the training aligned with institutional goals of the training.
Methods. Participants attended sessions open to the campus community pre-scheduled by the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and posted on its website. Chi-square tests were utilized to test associations between outcomes and questionnaire responses. Outcome measures included race/ethnicity, prior knowledge level, and overall rating of the training. Thematic analysis was used to code comments and establish themes from two open-ended survey questions.
Results. Significant differences were found by race and ethnicity for all questionnaire responses; each were p < 0.001. Those who reported they had advanced/expert knowledge on the topic were less likely to report the training increased their knowledge, and those who reported their race as White/Caucasian tended to give the training the highest overall rating, as did heterosexuals. Through thematic analysis, participants valued the interactive nature of the training sessions, the use of storytelling, and the safety of the learning environment. Participants’ intention to apply their learning indicated they had gained general awareness of bias and settings where it might influence their work.
Conclusions. In an effort to foster a better working and learning environment for those who are underrepresented in the health professions, training was provide that may not have met the expectations of all participants. At the same time, participants who identified as White clearly increased their awareness of bias. Therefore, it is recommended to move away from one-size-fits-all unconscious bias training and develop a robust training continuum to provide ongoing advancement for diverse audiences.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Maria Alonso Luaces, Ph.D., Julie M. Galliart, Ed.D., Natabhona M. Mabachi, Ph.D., Rosalee Zackula, M.A.
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