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I just searched: “racial bias in treatment for anxiety disorders,” but ended up looking at another article about how white health care professionals don’t think Black people need pain management. The article is actually pretty hilarious in how sunshiny-liberal it tries to be:
College students and nurses went to greater lengths to ease the pain of members of their own race in a study led by Brian Drwecki, a psychology graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“I want to be very clear about this: We’re not saying health care professionals are racist,” Drwecki says. “This is not racism. Racism is a conscious act of hate. We find it very unlikely that health care professionals are aware that they are making these biases, let alone trying to actively hurt black patients.”
That first part about the students and nurses going to greater lengths to relieve pain of “members of their own race” is cute. Because, ya know, it’s just a natural in-group/out-group thing. Everyone does it! Not just white people to anyone not white! Or not-Black people to Black people!
And thank you, Brian Drwecki, for easing our worries that this is TOTES NOT RACISM. And he can say that because the study measured for intentionality and harm healthcare professionals CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSE to inflict on Black patients. Because why would he rule that out unless he had evidence that nurses and doctors WEREN’T EVER intentionally abusing Black and non-white patients? You wouldn’t make a claim you had no evidence for, would you, Brian Drwecki???????
Anyway…there’s still hope!!!!
White participants ordered significantly more pain treatment for white patients, and scored higher on tests measuring the empathy they felt for the patients who received preferential treatment. Despite a vast difference in experience and knowledge — the students had no medical training, while nurses are often directly involved in trying to monitor pain and keep patients comfortable — the two groups showed very similar biases.
“The students’ results were consistent with the nurses’ results, supporting the idea that individuals are predisposed to racial bias in pain treatment before or after health care training,” Drwecki says.
The researchers have a promising, simple and cheap prescription for the problem. Simply asking the students and nurses to briefly put themselves in their patients’ shoes had a drastic effect on their decisions.
“With half of our participants, we said, ‘Before you make your treatment decisions, spend a moment imagining how your patient feels about his or her pain and how this pain is affecting his or her life,’” Drwecki says.
The quick shift of perspective reduced the pain treatment gap by 98 percent for the students and 55 percent among the nurses in the study, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“The cool thing is, as humans, we can increase our empathy,” Drwecki says. “You may not be the most naturally empathic person, but you can try these interventions and feel them working. Yes, this study demonstrates that racial bias in pain treatment exists, but, more importantly, it teaches us that it’s not inevitable.”
You see, guys! It’s not so hopeless! All we have to do is have someone go around telling health care professionals during every single patient interraction: “Now remember, Black patients are people!” and maybe half the time nurses (ie. the people who interract with patients THE MOST) won’t give us a lower standard of care! YAY!!!
It’s not racism! We just don’t think you feel pain like regular people.