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Check your Bias

A speculative campaign to raise awareness of implicit biases among US healthcare practitioners.

Young person with long braids and a white t-shirt wears a small pin badge reading 'check your bias'

Check Your Bias is a speculative campaign developed in a workshop given by Corinna Falusi of Mother New York, in which students were asked to address the excess of mortality and misdiagnosis in young mothers from minority backgrounds in the United States.

Two-part image: Left: 9 designs for round pin badges with white, red, and black backgrounds and the words 'check your bias' in different configurations. Right: Young person with long braids and a white t-shirt wears a small pin badge reading 'check your bias'.

Most people have inherent biases of some kind. Physicians aren't exempt from this, and there is little doubt that racial and gender bias indeed plays into their everyday decisions. I argue that a lack of education is at the root of this issue: if medical practitioners were more aware of their implicit biases, they could ciritically examine their own decisions and take corrective measures, improving health outcomes and potentially saving lives.

So the question became: How can we increase awareness of implicit biases among health practitioners?

My idea came from the observation that doctors and nurses often wear pin-badges displaying personal and motivational messages. The pin badge is an easy-to-apply, cost-effective medium to carry a message, and works with everyday clothes as well as hospital uniforms.

I was also reminded of the Black Lives Matter protests of June 2020, and the education they gave me on so many issues. One phrase that stuck in my mind was Check Your Privilege, a reminder for individuals from privileged backgrounds to become aware of their position in society.

The combination led me to propose an educational campaign centred around the slogan Check your Bias and delivered primarily through pin badges worn by patients.

Diagram. Left: Circle with exclamatino mark, captio: The message. Right: A doctor looks at a person in a red shirt wearing a badge with an exclamation mark. Caption: The patient as the vector of the message and his/her wellbeing as the goal

In the medical context, messages are often directed from the practitioner to the patient. My proposal reverses this relation: By wearing the pin badge the patient delivers a message to the professional, with the aim of improving health outcomes for themselves and other patients.

Check your Bias was conceived as a fully-fledged educational campaign aimed at hospitals and clinics. The pin badges are supported by a series of posters presenting the facts, and hospitals would be invited to take part in educational actions and workshops.