Are oncologists biased against unmarried cancer patients ? “The chief finding of these studies, which has made national headlines, is that unmarried patients are less likely to survive cancer.’

“As psychologist Bella DePaulo has pointed out, however, these results demonstrate only association, not causation. A less publicized finding suggests a possible confounder.”

“But the uncritical dissemination of unsubstantiated stereotypes in the studies I examined leaves little doubt that implicit bias does exist in the oncology community. To the extent that it influences clinical decision making, it represents a very real risk to unmarried patients, who may be denied potentially lifesaving treatment without objective assessment of their capacity to handle it.”