D1 - Tackling stigma and implicit bias in healthcare

Paris 2

Organised by the FIP Expert Group on Ethics in collaboration with FIP’s Hospital Pharmacy Section & Social and Administrative Pharmacy Section & SIG on Pharmacy Practice Research


Maria Allinson, Keele University, UK and Carl Schneider, The University of Sydney, Australia


Despite improvements in health and healthcare disparities in recent times, there continues to be inequality between patient groups in both health status and access to healthcare on a global scale. Whilst socioeconomic status may account for a large proportion of the disparities seen, it is necessary to consider the role of stigma and bias in access to healthcare and health outcomes. Stigma can be described as a negative feeling or association towards a particular person, persons, or self, based on a particular characteristic such as their race, gender identity, sexuality, social status, or presence of a particular disease.

Stigma towards patients by healthcare professionals has been documented and is associated with poorer healthcare professional-patient relationships, reluctance to access healthcare, and poorer health outcomes. Marginalised groups such as drug users, people living with HIV, members of the queer community, and ethnic minorities, are particularly prone to stigma as they are seen as being “different” to the general population.

It is important to be able to identify groups that may be marginalized and develop strategies to improve outcomes for these groups. Although it may be believed that stigma is a conscious and voluntary attitude, the concept of implicit bias suggests that people exhibit bias towards others with a particular characteristic without consciously intending to do so. This phenomenon is well-documented in the medical field, demonstrating associations with poorer health outcomes, but until recently there has been limited research in pharmacy.

In order for implicit bias and stigma to be addressed, individuals must first understand and acknowledge their own implicit bias – participants in this session will have the opportunity to assess their own implicit bias using an online tool in the workshop. The latter part of this session will explore a case study where simulated patients were used to assess implicit racial bias in community pharmacy practice. This session will bring forward the issue of stigma and bias in pharmacy practice to participants and enable them to reflect on how these behaviours and attitudes affect their own practice.


12:30 – 12:35 Introduction by the chairs

  1. 12:35 – 12:50 Ethics and stigma
    Betty Chaar, The University of Sydney, Australia
  2. 12:50 – 13:05 Stigma in healthcare and the ethical duty of pharmacists
    Nicole Avant, University of Cincinnati / Avant Group, USA
  3. 13:05 – 13:20 Caring for marginalised groups in pharmacy
    Asam Latif, University of Nottingham, UK
  4. 13:20 – 13:35 Exploring implicit bias in pharmacy using simulated patients: A case study
    Jack Collins, The University of Sydney, Australia
  5. 13:35 – 13:50 Workshop – Test your own implicit bias
    Facilitated by Carl Schneider, The University of Sydney, Australia

13:50 – 13:55 Conclusion by the chairs

13:55 – 14:00 Room refresh

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Develop an understanding of the role of stigma in healthcare and pharmacy and subsequent ethical implications
  2. Identify groups that may be marginalised in the healthcare system, and develop strategies to improve outcomes for these patients
  3. Describe the concept of implicit bias and develop an understanding of their own implicit biases and how this may impact practice

Type of session: Application-based