The patient narrative includes the patient’s sentiments about their health condition and how this has affected their lifestyle as opposed to a list of ailments. A large portion of the patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan is rooted in the patient’s narrative. If the health care provider does not listen to the patient’s story, they may miss a vital puzzle piece that could aid them in solving the mystery. The extent to which the health care provider listens to and values the patient narrative could be clouded by implicit biases that the provider holds. Implicit biases are preferential attitudes and associations towards people, which exist subconsciously.
In this study, interviews were conducted with physicians, nurses, medical students, and patients to better understand the extent to which health care providers emphasize the patient narrative and the role that implicit biases play in the doctor-patient and nurse-patient relationships. A multitude of biases were identified through the interviews, and it was established that, overall, the interviewed health care providers do not feel that listening to the patient narrative was emphasized in their medical training. Furthermore, all of the patients shared anecdotes of age bias, and they all felt that female physicians are more empathetic than male physicians. After analyzing the qualitative data collected from the interviews, it was established that more courses and training about implicit biases, emotional intelligence, and listening to the patient narrative need to be implemented in medical training.