How Our Personal Biases Affect Our Well-Being and Patient-Centered Care

August 24, 2023 by Chizobam Obi RN, BSN, CCRP

As oncology nurses, our personal biases can affect not only our own brains and cognitive functioning but also the mental health of those we interact with. We all have biases, or preconceived notions or ideas about particular people, groups, or circumstances. They frequently result ( from prior experiences, cultural and societal influences, and societal conditioning.

In nursing clinical practice, biases may influence ( our interactions, decisions, and overall well-being. Understanding how our biases affect our mental health is critical for providing equitable care and establishing a healthy work environment.

What the Research Tells Us 

Biases are filters by which we perceive the world. They can alter how we understand information, make judgments, and make healthcare decisions ( Those filters, however, may limit our comprehension of complex topics and our capacity to give our patients comprehensive and unbiased care. Recognizing our biases is the first step toward creating a more inclusive health system.

People may seek and interpret information that validates their preexisting ideas and biases. That tendency, called confirmation bias (, occurs when we only consider information that confirms our preexisting opinions while ignoring or discounting conflicting facts. Confirmation bias can limit our readiness to accept alternate points of view or evaluate new information critically. To counteract it, we must actively examine our prejudices, seek out varied sources of knowledge, and adopt a mentality of continuous learning.

Our personal implicit biases may cause us to feel defensive, resentful, fearful, or anxious ( when our views are challenged or discussed. Those significant emotional responses can negatively affect our mental health and well-being ( as well as our work and patient care ( To foster a positive work environment and provide compassionate patient care, we must learn to recognize and control our biases (

How to Practice

Your implicit bias may adversely influence how patients are treated, perpetuating disparities and obstructing the objective of equitable health care ( To guarantee that all patients receive the same high-quality care, nurses have an ethical obligation to tackle our preconceived biases.

Although the research tells us ( that we are hardwired for bias, here are some strategies ( that we can adopt to minimize how they affect us and those around us:

Acknowledging and challenging our biases is an ongoing process that calls for tolerance, humility, and a dedication to growth. These techniques can help us gain control over our biases and create an environment that supports and improves patient outcomes as well as our overall well-being.

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