Implicit gender bias in the diagnosis and treatment of type 2 diabetes: A randomized online study


Aims Implicit gender biases (IGBs) are unconscious evaluations about a person based on gender. IGBs of healthcare providers may affect medical decision making. This study investigated whether IGBs and genders of patients and general practitioners (GPs) influence diagnostics and treatment decisions in the context of diabetes type 2.

Methods Ninety-nine GPs participated in this randomized online study. Implicit Associations Tasks were used to measure two IGBs, related to lifestyle (women have a healthier lifestyle than men) and communication (men are less communicative than women). Clinical decisions regarding type 2 diabetes were measured with vignettes that included a fictional male or female patient case.

Results Female GPs exhibited a significant lifestyle IGB (p < 0.001). GPs of both genders exhibited a significant communication IGB (p < 0.001). Several associations between IGBs and clinical decisions were found. The gender of the vignette character affected several outcomes, for example GPs were less certain in the diabetes diagnosis when the character was a woman (p < 0.001).

Conclusion We demonstrated that GPs have IGBs and these biases as well as patient’s gender affect decisions of GP’s when they are solving a diabetes vignette case. Future research is needed to understand the most important consequences of IGBs in the context of type 2 diabetes.

Aleksandrina Skvortsova
Aleksandrina Skvortsova
Assistant Professor