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Medical students' attitudes toward obese patient avatars of different skin color.

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Laboratory of E-Learning & Multimedia Research (LEMUR), Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Bruce W. Carter VAMC, University of Miami, FL, USA.


Physicians' biases for skin color and obesity may negatively affect health-care outcomes. Identification of these biases is the first step to address the problem. We randomized 128 U.S medical students into one of four animated videos of avatar physician-patient counseling sessions, varying the weight and skin color of an elderly patient avatar: white-thin, black-thin, white-obese and black-obese. Medical students viewed white obese avatars as unattractive, ugly, noncompliant, lazy, and sloppy. Medical students' comments suggested a paternalistic attitude toward avatar patients. Avatar-mediated experiences can elicit medical students' bias potentially enabling medical educators to implement bias reduction interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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