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Arts and Humanities


It is a central claim of the literature on racial and ethnic disparities of care that socioeconomic and other variables do not fully explain these differences and that bias on the part of doctors also contributes importantly. By the same token, however, before a case for bias can be made, other explanations for observed disparities must be ruled out. Over the last two decades, this principle of exclusion has eroded. Documenting a change in the norms of the literature, the present article reviews a number of arguments that allege or suggest bias by doctors even while other explanations for disparities remain open. This practice is in evidence in the most influential work in the literature, the Institute of Medicine’s report Unequal Treatment (2003). In effect, Unequal Treatment altered the ground rules by making it possible to allege or suggest bias without abiding by the methodological (as well as ethical) requirements for so doing.


© 2023 Stewart Justman