Intended for healthcare professionals


Avoiding unconscious bias

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 10 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4366
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

The Royal College of Surgeons has produced guidance for doctors on how to stop unconscious biases affecting their work and interaction with colleagues. Abi Rimmer reports

Everyone has biases, some they are aware of, others they are not. This month the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has published guidance on how doctors can avoid these unconscious biases.1

Scarlett McNally, RCS council member and author of the guidance, explains that it is natural to place other people in a “category” when you first meet. “We do that by mistake, without thinking, unconsciously—and that’s fine, that’s human nature,” she says. “But the question is what we do with that.”

The RCS guidance includes advice on how avoiding unconscious bias can help doctors avoid bullying behaviour, as well as advice on preventing unconscious bias when …

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