Axiology and racial bias in medicine: A discussion of utilitarianism and moral desert

By: Arham Siddiqui

Baylor University

The growth of equality and civil rights is evident in modern society through historical events from The Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s to the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy established in 2012. However, racial bias remains a pressing issue, especially in the field of medicine. A study conducted in the United States by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of the Caucasian subjects implicitly gave preferential treatment to Caucasians over African Americans. Forty-eight percent highly favored Caucasians and 35% moderately favored them.1 Physicians also demonstrate this racial bias, as evidenced by a study utilizing an Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT was administered to physicians by briefly flashing images of Caucasians and people of other races performing certain activities, then asking the physicians to quickly give preference to a certain person. The results, published in the American Journal of Public Health, concurrently showed that physicians in the United States were more likely to favor Caucasians over other races.2 Although cases of explicit racial bias can be seen in modern medical practice, these cases are rare compared to the substantial amount of implicit racism found among the population of physicians in the United States. Therefore, in order to address racial bias in medicine, we must target physicians and students of medicine through a philosophical approach. Specifically, we must enlighten current and future physicians on the importance of value, ethics, and equality with regards to understanding and treating patients….

 

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JSNMA is the flagship publication of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). As the voice of the SNMA, it serves as an educational and outreach tool to upcoming doctors and researchers. Journal topics include medical education, research, health advocacy, career opportunities, cultural competency and community outreach.

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About the Author: JSNMA is the flagship publication of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). As the voice of the SNMA, it serves as an educational and outreach tool to upcoming doctors and researchers. Journal topics include medical education, research, health advocacy, career opportunities, cultural competency and community outreach.

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