Ensuring medication safety for consumers from ethnic minority backgrounds: the need to address unconscious bias within health systems

Ashfaq Chauhan, Ramesh Lahiru Walpola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Medication safety remains a pertinent issue for health systems internationally, with patients from ethnic minority backgrounds recognized at increased risk of exposure to harm resulting from unsafe medication practices. While language and communication barriers remain a central issue for medication safety for patients from ethnic minority backgrounds, increasing evidence suggests that unconscious bias can alter practitioner behaviours, attitudes and decision-making leading to unsafe medication practices for this population. Systemwide, service and individual level approaches such as cultural competency training and self-reflections are used to address this issue, however, the effectiveness of these strategies is not known. While engagement is proposed to improve patient safety, the strategies currently used to address unconscious bias seem tokenistic. We propose that including consumers from ethnic minority backgrounds in design and delivery of the education programs for health professionals, allocating extra time to understand their needs and preferences in care, and co-designing engagement strategies to improve medication related harm with diverse ethnic minority groups are key to mitigating medication related harm arising as a result of unconscious bias.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Volume33
Issue number4
Early online date29 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • unconscious bias
  • patient safety
  • ethnic minorities
  • migrant populations
  • equity in health care
  • medical errors
  • medication safety

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