Medical students' attitudes toward obese patient avatars of different skin color

Allen D. Andrade, Jorge G. Ruiz, Michael J. Mintzer, Pedro Cifuentes, Ramanakumar Anam, Josh Diem, Orlando Gómez-Marín, Huaping Sun, Bernard A. Roos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

12 Scopus citations


Physicians' biases for skin color and obesity may negatively affect health-care outcomes. Identification of these biases is the first step to address the problem. We randomized 128 U.S medical students into one of four animated videos of avatar physician-patient counseling sessions, varying the weight and skin color of an elderly patient avatar: white-thin, black-thin, white-obese and black-obese. Medical students viewed white obese avatars as unattractive, ugly, noncompliant, lazy, and sloppy. Medical students' comments suggested a paternalistic attitude toward avatar patients. Avatar-mediated experiences can elicit medical students' bias potentially enabling medical educators to implement bias reduction interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedicine Meets Virtual Reality 19
Subtitle of host publicationNextMed, MMVR 2012
PublisherIOS Press
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781614990215
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
EventMedicine Meets Virtual Reality 19: NextMed, MMVR 2012 - Newport Beach, CA, United States
Duration: Feb 9 2012Feb 11 2012

Publication series

NameStudies in Health Technology and Informatics
ISSN (Print)0926-9630
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8365


OtherMedicine Meets Virtual Reality 19: NextMed, MMVR 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNewport Beach, CA


  • Avatars
  • Computer simulation
  • Health disparities
  • Physician bias
  • Undergraduate medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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