PP307 – Unconscious Bias: Why it’s Important for Case Management
Case managers, despite the best of intentions are affected by unconscious bias. Every case manager brings their own perspective and bias to every workplace situation. Unconscious bias can lead to negative health outcomes and inequities in care.
What is unconscious bias and how does it affect case management?
Unconscious (inherent or implicit) biases, are the unconscious preconceived notions that we all bring to our interactions with others. These biases stem from subconscious associations gathered over a lifetime and can override conscious beliefs and cause people to unknowingly act in ways that may be inconsistent with their true values. Unconscious bias can affect what we see, how we react, how we feel and how we behave. If we are not aware of it and take measures to counter it, it will affect the quality of care provided.
Research shows that our brains make decisions up to 10 seconds before we even realize it. It is this research that implies that many of our “conscious” decisions and actions, may really be unconscious. Our brains reach conclusions based on what is familiar, safe, valuable, and logical. It is unconscious bias that happens when this automatic processing occurs in our brain. Unconscious bias is natural, it is a universal method of cognitive thinking and nobody is exempt, not even case manages.
In this session, we will explore ways to identify individual biases, discuss ways to increase awareness of it and review strategies to manage the unconscious biases discovered. As case managers continue to work with diverse populations and have ongoing pressures to handle larger caseloads in less time, the risk of unconscious bias is evident. Therefore, it critical that case managers have the skills to understand, assess, and mitigate the unconscious biases that exist within us. To accomplish this goal, we must revisit the topic frequently and review the strategies and management tools at all levels of care. (The Joint Commission, 2016)