Implicit Racial Bias in Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery

J Pediatr Orthop. 2022 May 9. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000002170. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Racial and ethnic minority patients continue to experience disparities in health care. It is important to understand provider-level factors that may contribute to these inequities. This study aims to evaluate the presence of implicit racial bias among pediatric orthopaedic surgeons and determine the relationship between bias and clinical decision making.

METHODS: A web-based survey was distributed to 415 pediatric orthopaedic surgeons. One section measured for potential implicit racial bias using a child-race implicit association test (IAT). IAT scores were compared with US physicians and the US general population using publicly available data. Another section consisted of clinical vignettes with associated questions. For each vignette, surgeons were randomly assigned a single race-version, White or Black. Vignette questions were grouped into an opioid recommendation, management decision, or patient perception category for analysis based on subject tested. Vignette answers from surgeons with IAT scores that were concordant with their randomized vignette race-version (ie, surgeon with pro-White score assigned White vignette version) were compared with those that were discordant.

RESULTS: IAT results were obtained from 119 surveyed surgeons (29% response rate). Overall, respondents showed a minor pro-White implicit bias (P<0.001). Implicit bias of any strength toward either race was present among 103/119 (87%) surgeons. The proportion of pediatric orthopaedic surgeons with a strong pro-White implicit bias (29%) was greater than that of US physicians overall (21%, P=0.032) and the US general population (19%, P=0.004). No differences were found in overall opioid recommendations, management decisions, or patient perceptions between concordant and discordant groups.

CONCLUSION: Most of the pediatric orthopaedic surgeons surveyed demonstrated implicit racial bias on IAT testing, with a large proportion demonstrating strong pro-White bias. Despite an association between implicit bias and clinical decision making in the literature, this study observed no evidence that implicit racial bias affected the management of pediatric fractures.


PMID:35522848 | DOI:10.1097/BPO.0000000000002170