Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Unconscious bias, ethnic identity and Māori health: What is the role of stereotyping? (#310)

Carla Houkamau 1
  1. University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Research in New Zealand has consistently demonstrated that Māori (the Indigenous peoples) receive poorer quality of health care than Pākehā (the Māori name for the New Zealand Europeans). Racism and bias on the part of health care providers has been cited as a key contributor. At this time a theoretical framework to support that claim has yet to be put forward. This presentation addresses that gap and describes a theoretical basis for further discussion on the role of bias (particularly unconscious bias) for Māori health outcomes. The paper describes potential sources of bias towards Māori in the provision of health care in New Zealand. Empirical research and models formulated in social psychology will be used to explain the processes of stereotype threat as it applies to Māori health outcomes. The role of ethnic identity (Pākehā and Māori) will be underlined, particularly in relation to stereotyping and cognitive bias. These psychological phenomena have not been integrated and applied to the problem of Māori health inequities per se; however, it is proposed that they provide a useful conceptual lens for understanding how interpersonal dynamics between Māori and Pākehā perpetuate health disparities between the two groups. Exemplars will be provided to illustrate the detrimental impact of unconscious bias for Māori and Indigenous health.