Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Health Information Resources: Health Literacy and Implicit Bias

This is a research guide for Williams users and North Berkshire community members on health information resources available here at Williams College and from local and federal organization and agencies.

Why Focus on Bias?

Health disparities are defined as "a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social and/or economic obstacles to health and/or a clean environment based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion” (National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities).

Health disparities may be perpetrated through biases on the parts of health services providers, whose implicit and explicit biases lead them to share health information differentially. Health information seekers can help to combat the resulting health disparities by seeking health information from varied and reputable sources. But we can all help to combat health disparities by identifying and tackling our implicit biases.

Need help? You can ask!

 

 

Don't want to chat? See: Other ways to get help

Research Tip: Borrow It

Borrow It!

If we don't own a book, or if our copy is checked out, you can borrow a copy from another library. Just search for the book in Williams WorldCat, and then choose "Request Item" to borrow it.

If you need help, just ask!

Key Terms

Health literacy is often defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions (US Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2010). However, this definition places the burden of understanding on individuals. A better definition, proposed by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, sees health literacy as at the intersection of individuals, healthcare providers, and the environment.

Health literacy is an important factor in health disparity, "a particular type of health difference that  is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social and/or economic obstacles to health and/or a clean environment based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion” (National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities).

For more information, please see: 

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2000. Healthy People 2010. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Originally development for Ratzan SC, Parker RM. 2000. Introduction. In National Library of Medicine Current Bibliographies in Medicine: Health Literacy. Selden CR, Zorn M, Ratzan SC, Parker RM, Editors. NLM Pub. No. CBM 2000-1. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Pleasant, A., R. E. Rudd, C. O'Leary, M. K. Paasche-Orlow, M. P. Allen, W. Alvarado-Little, L. Myers, K. Parson, and S. Rosen. 2016. Considerations for a new definition of health literacy. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. 

Identifying Implicit Bias

Combatting Implicit Biases

According to Dr. Kimberly Reynolds, one way to combat your own implicate biases is to C.H.E.C.K Your Biases:

  • Connect: identify and acknowledge your bias
  • Honor: recognize when your bias has been activated
  • Engage: look for disconfirming evidence, counter-stereotype (think of examples that defy stereotypes), take on the perspective of the person you have an implicit bias against and try to understand them
  • Communicate with Kindness (with yourself as well as others)

Subject Librarian

Helena Warburg's picture
Helena Warburg
Meet your librarian:
Contact:
Schow Science Library
413-597-3085
hwarburg@williams.edu
pronouns: she, her, hers

Subject Librarian

Abigail Cahill's picture
Abigail Cahill
Meet your librarian:
Contact:
Schow Science Library
413-597-4503
alc11@williams.edu