March of Dimes Announces Enhanced Implicit Bias Training to Address Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes

April 12, 2022

In an effort to further increase awareness of implicit bias among maternity care professionals and spur behavioral change, March of Dimes today announced updates to its implicit bias training, Awareness to Action: Dismantling Bias in Maternal and Infant Healthcare™. The enhanced program, which is aimed at dismantling inequities in maternal and infant health, is now available to health care professionals and nursing and medical students with in-person or virtual training options.

The U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations for women to give birth, with persistent disparities cutting across all measures of maternal and infant health. This health crisis is significantly fueled by the health equity gap in our health care system today. Implicit bias and stigma experienced by patients, coupled with institutional racism, partly contributes to the disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. The latest data from the 2021 March of Dimes Report Card shows Black, American Indian and Alaska Native women and their babies consistently have worse health outcomes than their White peers.[1] 

Mitigating health care professionals’ implicit bias in the various care delivery settings for pregnant women is an important component to creating and sustaining a culture of equity within health care institutions. Chronic inequities and unequal access to quality health care contribute to higher rates of maternal and infant health complications, particularly for communities of color. Health care industry leaders have identified implicit and explicit bias as one potential contributor to these disparities. One study showed that nearly 50% of all providers practicing in obstetrics and gynecology admit to having some bias.[2]

“Every person has some level of unconscious bias, but unchecked stereotyping or negative biases about a group of patients can foster misplaced beliefs and lead to poor decision making by providers,” said Dr. Zsakeba Henderson, Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Medical and Health Officer. “Knowledge and behavior change are the first steps to ensuring better patient-provider communication and improving the quality of care that moms and babies receive. We believe all families should have the opportunity to have the best possible birth experience and start to life.”

The enhanced training, which includes feedback from previous training participants, is intended to address the evolving needs of moms and challenges they face in maternity care settings. The course will build awareness and understanding of bias among health care providers, nursing and medical students and provide actionable steps that lead to behavioral change. These actions can result in improving patient-provider communication, improving the patient experience and quality of care and creating a culture shift across health care organizations towards the broader goal of achieving equity.

Awareness to Action: Dismantling Bias in Maternal and Infant Healthcare is available as both a 1.5-hour e-learning module or as a 3-4 hour in-person class.

Course topics include:

  • Define Implicit Bias: Drive understanding and help identify implicit bias, the cognitive basis that informs bias and its impact on maternity care settings.
  • Describe Structural Racism: Explain how structural racism has played a key role in shaping U.S. care settings and contributes to implicit biases in patient/provider encounters. 
  • Apply Strategies: Recognize potential for implicit bias and apply strategies, such as the CARES Framework™, and practice of cultural humility to effectively mitigate your own implicit biases. 
  • Commit to a Culture of Equity: Recognize how the lessons learned can help create system-wide change to establish a culture of equity that elevates the quality of maternity care. 

Since 2020, March of Dimes has offered implicit bias training to more than 35,000 providers in more than 30 states and Washington, D.C. The organization received the American Hospital Association’s 2020 Award of Honor for efforts to advance health equity through implicit bias training for health care professionals in maternal and infant care settings. 

To learn more about Awareness to Action: Dismantling Bias in Maternal and Infant Healthcare™, visit:




Sarah Smith (202-774-0554)
[email protected]