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Reflection Paper: Stereotypes in Health Care

Ageism, sexism, racism, other stereotypes, and social discrimination represent a severe challenge to the healthcare system. Significantly, older women are affected by bias when interacting with medical services. However, the ethnic and racial groups commonly face disparities in receiving care. This reflective paper investigates different manifestations of stereotypical approaches in the healthcare system, emphasizing older women.

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To start with, women are known to live longer than men. Hence in the older age, they tend to interact with medical practitioners more often. Nonetheless, ageism and sexism can have hazardous consequences for patients resulting in low levels of trust, avoidance of healthcare facilities, and embarrassment. According to Chrisler et al. (2016), the generalization of elderly diseases expressed through jokes (“old timer’s disease” and “senior moments”) and some of the policy trends promoting pension funding depletion cultivate an unpleasant environment for elderly patients. Moreover, instruments used to isolate elders from the younger population, such as senior centers and other social spaces, facilitate the distancing and make people feel unwanted in various aspects of society (Chrisler et al., 2016). Since women constitute the majority of retirees, this part of the population is influenced explicitly by biased health care. For example, all conditions being equal, women are more likely to be appointed to heart bypass surgery for cardiac diseases (Chrisler et al., 2016). Therefore, I am convinced of my submission regarding the bias of the health care, which undermines medical services quality provided to the elderly, especially women.

Several approaches have to be adopted to combat the described issue. Chrisler et al. (2016) underline the need for educating healthcare professionals in regards to aging. The practitioners should understand that “”aging” means both growth and loss for all age groups” (Chrisler et al., 2016). Furthermore, the ethical issue of mistreating old patients has to be communicated to medical staff as well. It is also necessary to explain to the patients that they deserve their place in society and can count on fair, unbiased care. Overall, one should approach the problem’s solution through effective problem communication and educate both physicians and patients concerning ageism and sexism.

However, the stereotypes in the healthcare system are not limited only to older women. Racial and ethnic discrimination is also common in caregiving facilities. Nelson (2003) provides evidence regarding disparities in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases. The numerous analyzed studies discover severe healthcare mistreatment of people of color and ethnic minorities. Nelson (2003) further recommends focusing on raising awareness of the existence of this kind of stereotypical attitude. Overall, I believe that racial and ethnics biases in health care are unacceptable. They lead to worse disease outcomes for certain social groups, undermining the concept of “equal” treatment established in the US Constitution.

Finally, it was interesting to learn about another side of the coin – occupational stereotypes held by some customers and how they influence value creation. Obviously, such human-centered service systems like hospitals are among the first ones coming to mind when speaking about the biased perception of professionals. Huetten et al. (2019) conduct a thorough descriptive analysis of correlations between value creation and various occupational stereotypes. In general, this type of biases indeed challenges the outcomes of patient-doctor cooperation.

To conclude, I found the articles quite persuasive in delivering the stereotypical approach’s threat to health care. As I learned, older women are most affected by social biases and experience embarrassment and isolation. This ultimately leads to deterioration of quality of life due to a lower level of trust in caregiving facilities. Besides, racial and ethnic disparities also exist in medical treatment. I was surprised to read about how much people of color happen to face less conscious care. I also liked the concept of “value co-creation” explained in Huetten’s article. All in all, the investigated studies picture a comprehensive image of health care gaps and agree that it is essential to raise awareness and educate patients and medical staff.


Chrisler, J. C., Barney, A., & Palatino, B. (2016). Ageism can be Hazardous to Women’s Health: Ageism, Sexism, and Stereotypes of Older Women in the Healthcare System. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 86–104. Web.

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Huetten, A. S. J., Antons, D., F. Breidbach, C., Piening, E. P., & Salge, T. O. (2019). The impact of occupational stereotypes in human-centered service systems. Journal of Service Management, 30(1), 132–155. Web.

Nelson, A. R. (2003). Unequal treatment: report of the institute of medicine on racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 76(4), S1377–S1381. Web.

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