OWINGS MILLS, Md. (May 12, 2022)—Research is now underway for the study “Racial Bias in Orthotics and Prosthetics,” a recipient of a 2021 American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) and Center for Orthotic and Prosthetic Learning and Outcomes/Evidence-Based Practice (COPL) Pilot Grant. The Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC) committed $30,000 to fund the study, which is the first of its kind in the orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) field.

Led by Cody McDonald, PhD, MPH, CPO, as principal investigator, the study will assess implicit and explicit racial biases among clinicians, educators and students in the O&P field. Racial biases among health care providers, which are known to contribute to health care disparities and poor health outcomes for Black, indigenous and people of color, are well-documented in many areas of health care but have not yet been explored in O&P.

"This research is an essential first step to reduce health disparities and improve racial equity in patient access and outcomes in O&P,” said McDonald. “As clinicians, educators and students, we must examine our own biases and work to minimize the impact on our patients. The first step toward more equitable care is understanding the current state of racial bias in the profession, and this is the focus of our study.”

Upon conclusion of this study, foundational information on racial biases in O&P will guide the development of interventions to reduce biases and target inequities. Additionally, the results of this study will provide baseline data on racial biases in O&P for future comparison as efforts to address biases are implemented in years to come.

For clinicians, educators and students not able to participate in the study but interested in learning more about implicit bias, visit the Project Implicit Harvard University website to take the Implicit Association Test.

"BOC is proud to be a key funder for the 2021 COPL Pilot Grant Program. The 'Racial Bias in Orthotics and Prosthetics' study aligns with BOC's values and is important to our professional community,” said BOC Board Chair Wayne Rosen, BOCP, BOCO, LPO, CDME, FAAOP.

Results of “Racial Bias in Orthotics and Prosthetics” will be disseminated in early 2023. 

Since its inception in 2009, COPL has awarded funds totaling $2.5 million for O&P research. COPL was founded to support research objectives that include advancement of knowledge and technologies in orthotics and prosthetics, enhancement of evidence-based medicine research capabilities, and patient-oriented outcomes designed to ensure that the needs of patients are best served. 

To learn more, visit aopanet.org and bocusa.org.