Whether and Why Pediatric Researchers Report Race and Ethnicity | Pediatrics | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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July 2003

Whether and Why Pediatric Researchers Report Race and Ethnicity

Author Affiliations

From the Pritzker School of Medicine (Ms Walsh) and the Department of Pediatrics (Dr Ross) and the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics (Dr Ross), University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. Ms. Walsh is a second-year medical student at Pritzker School of Medicine.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(7):671-675. doi:10.1001/archpedi.157.7.671

Background  Recently, specific policy statements have been published in pediatric journals that question the use of race and ethnicity (R/E) in health care research.

Objectives  To determine why researchers may or may not collect R/E data and to find out their opinion on the importance of R/E and SMs to their research.

Methods  All full-length articles published in the print edition of 3 general pediatric journals published between July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2000, were collected and reviewed. Articles were excluded if they did not include at least 1 US researcher, all subjects at US institutions, some prospective data collection, or enrolled less than 8 or more than 10 000 subjects. We recorded whether the articles documented R/E, socioeconomic markers (SMs), or both in the "Results" section and whether they discussed their significance. Corresponding authors (or researchers) were surveyed to clarify the R/E data, to determine why they had or had not collected R/E data, and to elicit their opinion on the importance of R/E and SMs to their research.

Results  One hundred ninety-two studies qualified for further review. One hundred fourteen (59%) reported R/E but only 44 (23%) discussed it. Even fewer 74 (39%) reported both R/E and SMs, and only 33 (17%) discussed both. Researchers collected R/E data because they thought it was relevant and because it described the subject population. Seventy-five percent of the researchers who responded to the survey thought R/E and 63% thought SMs were relevant to their research, and this influenced whether they reported and discussed R/E (P<.001, χ2 test) and whether they discussed SMs (P<.001, χ2 test).

Conclusions  Pediatric statements will require that researchers not mention R/E or explore the extent to which R/E disparities are confounded by other SMs. This will require a cultural shift because many researchers believe that R/E is relevant to their research, and yet, they infrequently report SMs.