Why do providers contribute to disparities and what can be done about it?

Diana J. Burgess, Steven S. Fu, Michelle Van Ryn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


This paper applies social cognition research to understanding and ameliorating the provider contribution to racial/ethnic disparities in health care. We discuss how fundamental cognitive mechanisms such as automatic, unconscious processes (e.g., stereotyping) can help explain provider bias. Even well-intentioned providers who are motivated to be nonprejudiced may stereotype racial/ethnic minority members, particularly under conditions of that diminish cognitive capacity. These conditions - time pressure, fatigue, and information overloadare frequently found in health care settings. We conclude with implications of the social-cognitive perspective for developing interventions to reduce provider bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1154-1159
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Disparities
  • Ethnicity
  • Provider behavior
  • Race
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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