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This study examined a novel curricular method to help students increase awareness of and reflect on racial bias. This method of combining students’ Race Implicit Association Test results with longitudinal small-group discussion has not appeared in the literature to date.


University of Vermont first year medical students are enrolled in a year-long, small-group course designed to create reflective discussion about professionalism and emotionally complex topics in medicine. Prior to the session we investigated, students were instructed to complete the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and related readings. Students then engaged in a semi-structured group discussion facilitated by faculty. After the session, students completed an anonymous evaluation, which included Likertl questions about session objectives and an opportunity for comments, which were subjected to thematic analysis. Two versions of the session were compared.


86% (version 1) and 92% (version 2) of students indicated that this session encouraged them to think about their own unconscious bias, 80% (version 1) and 81% (version 2) indicated that it prompted them to have a discussion that they would not have otherwise had and 64% (version 1) and 51% (version 2) reported that the IAT played a crucial role in their discussion. Results of the thematic analysis (version 1) mirror the Likert results.


Use of the IAT combined with facilitated small-group discussion encouraged students to contemplate bias with peers. This method for promoting exploration of bias in medical education sets the stage for further dialogue and more just clinical care.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.