Identify Types and Sources of Bias

The development of implications also requires that we check for bias in our ideas, evidence, methods of analysis and conclusions. That is, we need to check for underlying assumptions about people and issues that may be unproven or wrong, and that can lead to errors in our interpretations. In the case of home care, for instance, the belief that women are natural caregivers has no foundation in evidence, but it has created enormous pressure for women to provide care and it has produced many policies and programs that either don’t help women or make things worse for them.

Bias can take many different forms, some of which will be familiar to most of us – as ideas if not in our own experiences. Sexism, racism, disability prejudice, regionalism, and homophobia are common forms of bias and there are many others. A useful tool for thinking about bias is the BIAS FREE Framework developed by Mary Anne Burke and Margit Eichler [1]. Eichler and Burke created the framework with the goal of eliminating bias from health research, but the tool can also be applied in the areas of health planning, policy development, and service delivery.

According to Burke and Eichler, there are three main types of bias: (1) maintaining an existing hierarchy or power structure; (2) failing to recognize differences among and between people, and (3) applying double standards. Let’s explore what each of these types of bias might look like in relation to health and the core concepts of sex, gender, diversity and equity. It is important to learn to recognize and address biases because failure to do so may mean that we are supporting and/or spreading them. In the process, we may unintentionally be contributing to social and economic injustice as well as to health inequities.

Source: [1] http://www.biasfree.org/full_BF.pdf

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