Addressing cognitive bias in medical language models

There is increasing interest in the application large language models (LLMs) to the medical field, in part because of their impressive performance on medical exam questions. While promising, exam questions do not reflect the complexity of real patient-doctor interactions. In reality, physicians' decisions are shaped by many complex factors, such as patient compliance, personal experience, ethical beliefs, and cognitive bias. Taking a step toward understanding this, our hypothesis posits that when LLMs are confronted with clinical questions containing cognitive biases, they will yield significantly less accurate responses compared to the same questions presented without such biases. In this study, we developed BiasMedQA, a benchmark for evaluating cognitive biases in LLMs applied to medical tasks. Using BiasMedQA we evaluated six LLMs, namely GPT-4, Mixtral-8x70B, GPT-3.5, PaLM-2, Llama 2 70B-chat, and the medically specialized PMC Llama 13B. We tested these models on 1,273 questions from the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Steps 1, 2, and 3, modified to replicate common clinically-relevant cognitive biases. Our analysis revealed varying effects for biases on these LLMs, with GPT-4 standing out for its resilience to bias, in contrast to Llama 2 70B-chat and PMC Llama 13B, which were disproportionately affected by cognitive bias. Our findings highlight the critical need for bias mitigation in the development of medical LLMs, pointing towards safer and more reliable applications in healthcare.

PDF Abstract


Results from the Paper

  Submit results from this paper to get state-of-the-art GitHub badges and help the community compare results to other papers.