Annals of Family Medicine: Researchers propose strategies to accurately characterize health inequities across racial groups in quantitative health sciences research – PR Newswire

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Mar 01, 2022, 11:18 ET
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A U.S.-based research team has proposed a rethinking in how dominant research paradigms are used to more appropriately account for differences in health outcomes across racial and ethnic groups in quantitative health sciences – conceptual approaches that are typically ignored and overlooked.
The paper, recently published in the Annals of Family Medicine, is titled "Conceptualizing, Contextualizing, and Operationalizing Race in Quantitative Health Sciences Research". It is available for free download.
"To move forward in achieving racial equity, we must leave behind antiquated, unsubstantiated, and harmful conceptualizations of race and implement strategies that allow us to estimate the health impacts of systemic racism and ultimately dismantle it," the authors write.
By conceptualizing health disparities as separate from the impacts of systemic racism, researchers propagate harmful narratives and stereotypes of biological characteristics or cultural inferiority, which hinder equity.
This approach has been historically common in health sciences literature. The authors emphasize that the presence of these narratives in COVID-19 literature, as well as in research about inequities in morbidity and mortality among Black individuals, incorrectly contribute to harmful stereotypes such as genetic susceptibility; greater risk tolerance or willful assumption of pandemic risk; or poor hygiene.
"Race should not be used as a measure of biological difference, but rather as a proxy for exposure to systemic racism," the authors write. "We emphasize that an understanding of race that moves from physiological difference to a particular relationship to structural forces is foundational to high quality health equity research."
Following a brief overview of the history of health equity research, the paper provides recommendations on how researchers can more appropriately engage in quantitative scientific inquiry to understand the impact of racism on adverse health outcomes:
Conceptualizing, Contextualizing, and Operationalizing Race in Quantitative Health Sciences Research
Elle Lett, Emmanuella Asabor, Sourik Beltrán, Ashley Michelle Cannon, Onyebuchi A. Arah
SOURCE Annals of Family Medicine
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