Application of Best Practices
Problem Statement: Stigmatizing language—written and verbal—can fuel implicit bias among health care professionals, leading to unintentional negative effects in how they care for patients. To provide equitable care, health care professionals and systems must become aware of the language they use and learn to replace biased language with inclusive language.
Background: The medical field strives to treat all patients equally, yet disparities in health care persist. These disparities are due, in part, to implicit bias that affects how health care professionals and systems care for patients. Although reports recommend developing education programs that address implicit bias, these programs fail to address an important contributor: stigmatizing language used among health care professionals. With guidance, health care professionals and institutions can recognize and replace their biased language to foster more inclusive communication that promotes equitable health care.
Application: The AMA Manual of Style outlines standardized inclusive language that health care professionals can use to address bias in their writing, as well as in their clinical practice, teaching, and research. The guide recommends using person-first language, avoiding generalizations and labeling, describing specific details, and being sensitive to the preferences of individuals or groups. The guide also provides detailed recommendations for using inclusive language regarding race/ethnicity, physical or mental condition, sex or gender, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status. With these guidelines, health care providers can replace stigmatizing language to reduce implicit bias and comprehensively address disparities in health care.
Herron, Crystal R.
"Inclusive Language Matters: Recommendations for Health Care Providers to Address Implicit Bias and Equitable Health Care,"
Journal of Maine Medical Center: Vol. 3
, Article 9.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.46804/2641-2225.1093