NEW YORK — Health care providers showed preferences toward patients who identified the same way as themselves, a new study has found.
Researchers from the University of Washington Health Sciences consulted the Sexuality Implicit Association Test, which gathered results from more than 200,000 participants between 2006-2012, Medical Daily reports. Participants taking the test were asked explicit questions to indicate their preferences toward heterosexual, lesbian, and gay individuals, like whether they’d endorse the statement, “I strongly prefer gay people to straight people” or “I strongly prefer straight people to gay people.” Participants who worked in fields of health care were specified with their test results as either a medical doctor, nurse, mental health provider or other treatment provider.
Straight health care providers showed moderate to strong implicit preferences for heterosexual patients. Interestingly enough, the same result was found in lesbian and gay health care providers who also displayed both implicit and explicit preferences to treat lesbian and gay patients. Bisexual providers proved to be more indecisive, showing mixed preferences. There were also variations based on the type of health care profession certain participants occupied; for instance, mental health care providers showed the weakest implicit bias for sexual preferences, while nurses had the strongest preference for heterosexual patients over lesbian and gay patients, the Medical Daily article notes.
“Training for health care providers about treating sexual minority patients is an area in great need of attention,” researchers wrote in the findings.