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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

A Cross-Sectional Study of Implicit Bias in EMS Workers

Alex Trembley

Graduate, Public Administration


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the prevalence of racial implicit bias among a single cross-section of Emergency Service Workers in diverse urban and suburban communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin utilizing the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT is a statistically validated tool that studies respondents’ bias via a short web-based test. In this blinded, prospective analysis, all actively certified EMTs, AEMTs, and Paramedics in Minnesota and Wisconsin (22942) were invited to participate in an electronic survey about bias that included basic demographic information (no PII) and the skin-tone IAT using an anonymous email link. Data collection began on July 21st, 2020 and completed on August 5th due to a satisfactory number of responses (authors originally planned to cease at 500, but response rate exceeded expectations). 2314 (10.1%) of qualified respondents began the survey and 1449 (6.3%) of qualified respondents completed the survey. Data was blinded to the researchers. Results of the IAT were converted into a continuous variable (d-score) by Project Implicit. Utilizing the 1449 available responses, we identified a mean d-score of 0.4715 (95% CI= 0.45090-0.49224) in all workers, which translates to a moderate automatic preference for white people when compared to dark-skinned people overall. With a level of significance less than our test statistic (α=0.05), we identify a statistically significant rate of implicit bias in Midwestern EMS workers (P <0.0001).

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  1. Anca Miron

    Great work! What was the magnitude of implicit bias among your non-White participants?

    • Alexander Trembley

      Hey Anca!

      What a terrific question. There was no change in the overall distribution of implicit bias in non-white respondents.

      There’s been some terrific research on the pre-disposition of POC people to favor white faces.

  2. Jason Sweney

    Nicely done Alex. Good use of information and presentation.

  3. Sam Larson

    Excellent job, Alex! It’s wonderful to see how this project came together. Your contributions to understanding racial inequity in emergency health services is a very important research topic with much left to uncover. I’m looking forward to hearing more as you continue pursuing this path!


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