Pioneering an Unconscious Bias Educational Activity with Pharmacy Students

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


IntroductionThe recent ‘Race in the Workplace’ review1 highlighted issues relating to unconscious (implicit) biases, including how these prevent career progression. The pilot study below (considered to be the first of its kind among UK pharmacy undergraduates) aimed to increase awareness of unconscious bias, since making people cognizant of these biases is deemed to be a vital step in addressing the manifestation of them.1 It also sought to establish whether changes in opinions had occurred by the end of the activity.MethodAll first year MPharm and BSc pharmacy students (n=121) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) were invited to complete an online and largely self-guided, educational activity on unconscious bias. This comprised several parts, namely: (i) a questionnaire to establish base-line knowledge; (ii) two validated Harvard Implicit Association Tests (IATs) about gender; (iii) a published training video relating to unconscious bias; (iv) re-taking the two IATs and (v) a post-IAT and training questionnaire. A pre-piloted questionnaire previously used for another teaching activity 2 was adapted for the questionnaires in this activity. Data analysis largely took the form of descriptive statistics; the Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used for before and after (the training) comparisons with significance set at p<0.05 a priori.ResultsThe initial questionnaire and post-training questionnaire were completed by 99 and 66 students, respectively. Unconscious bias training influenced students’ IAT scores in relation to gender-career (3.24 post-training versus 2.83 pre-training, where 1 and 7 indicate biases towards male and female associations respectively; p=0.009). After training, 98.5% stated they fully understood what is meant by the term 'unconscious bias' (compared with 62.6% pre-training). Additionally, 89.4% believed the activity had increased awareness about unconscious bias with positive comments including: “it encouraged me to make a conscience effort to eliminate bias”, “my perspective has changed” and “it was thought-provoking and taught me about the harm that having certain biases and stereotypes can do.”ConclusionThis strategy appeared to be effective for reducing implicit bias and the activity will now be embedded into the undergraduate teaching within the School. However, additional work is warranted to measure the long-term impact of such an activity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019
Event9th All Ireland Pharmacy Healthcare Conference - Ballymascanlon House Hotel, Dundalk, Ireland
Duration: 15 Oct 201915 Oct 2019


Conference9th All Ireland Pharmacy Healthcare Conference


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