Semester of Graduation

May 2022


Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



Implicit racial biases have been documented across a variety of allied health professions. A systematic review conducted by FitzGerald and Hurst (2017) of implicit bias in healthcare professionals found that 20 out of 25 studies examined displayed bias against BIPOC in diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and other aspects of the medical care they received. A literature review completed by Hall et al. (2015) found similar results, stating that 9 of the 15 studies examined identified bias against Black clients. One allied healthcare profession, speech-language pathology, interacts with a diverse clientele in a clinical environment and yet have been excluded from much of the existing implicit bias literature. According to the Code of Ethics outlined by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), SLPs are prohibited from discriminating in the delivery of professional services based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity/gender expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, disability, culture, language, or dialect (ASHA, 2016). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to gain insight into implicit bias within students enrolled in speech-language pathology programs by evaluating their perceptions and attitudes about two common forms of implicit bias: color blindness and microaggression. Fifty-nine SLP students voluntarily completed a Qualtrics survey comprised of two well-validated scales: the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (Neville, 2000) and the Acceptability of Racial Microaggressions Scale (Mekawi & Todd, 2018). Results suggested that while 63% of students did not endorse statements that express color-blind beliefs on the CoBRAS, and 70% did not support microaggressive statements on the ARMS, approximately one-third of students either (a) endorsed these statements or (b) did not rate these statements as unacceptable. White students’ responses indicated higher levels of bias compared to BIPOC peers, although overall levels of implicit bias were low-to-moderate for both groups. Although data indicating low-to-moderate levels of implicit bias found in this study are promising, responses were not uniform and qualitative responses provided evidence of polarized opinions within the student cohort.

Committee Chair

Oetting, Janna B.