Clinical Decision-Making, Gender Bias, Virtue Epistemology, and Quality Healthcare

Topoi 36 (3):501-508 (2017)
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Robust clinical decision-making depends on valid reasoning and sound judgment and is essential for delivering quality healthcare. It is often susceptible, however, to a clinician’s biases such as towards a patient’s age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Gender bias in particular has a deleterious impact, which frequently results in cognitive myopia so that a clinician is unable to make an accurate diagnosis because of a patient’s gender—especially for female patients. Virtue epistemology provides a means for confronting gender bias in clinical decision-making and for correcting or even preventing its impact. The medical literature on cardiovascular and coronary heart disease is used to illustrate the role intellectual virtues can play in redressing the deleterious impact of gender bias on clinical decision-making and practice. Finally, questions are considered surrounding the pedagogy of intellectual virtues for medical students and practicing clinicians in order to provide quality care for patients, regardless of gender.



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