The IOM Report: Too Quick to Diagnose Bias

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The IOM report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care argues that medical studies document a systematic causal relationship between race and disparities in health inputs and outcomes among individuals of different races. We argue that the majority of studies are not powerful enough to establish a causal link since they do not sufficiently control for differences among patients that happen to correlate with race. We outline a powerful audit study that could isolate any effect of race on health care decisions. Lastly, we point out that even if there are race-based disparities in health inputs, evaluations of welfare and policy prescriptions should be based on health outcomes since the relationship between care and health is, at least in some cases, weak.


Disparities, discrimination, health

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Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

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