Minority Health Archive

“Race” and “ethnicity” in biomedical research: How do scientists construct and explain differences in health?☆

Lee, Catherine (2009) “Race” and “ethnicity” in biomedical research: How do scientists construct and explain differences in health?☆. Social Science & Medicine, 68 (6). p. 1183. ISSN 02779536

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Social and biomedical scientists, journal editors, and public health officials continue to debate the merits of the use of race and ethnicity in health-related research. As biomedical research focuses on issues of racial or ethnic health disparities, it remains unclear how biomedical scientists investigate race or ethnicity and health. This paper examines how biomedical researchers construct and analyze race or ethnicity in their studies and what conclusions they make about difference and health. Using content analysis of 204 biomedical research journal publications, which were supported by grants won from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health in the USA, I demonstrate that although authors tended to see race or ethnicity as important and significant in their research, they rarely defined or operationalized the concepts adequately. Moreover, when presenting findings of racial or ethnic difference, authors generally did not provide explanations of the difference. I argue that this under-theorized and unspecified use of race or ethnicity and the biological conclusions drawn about health and difference have the potential to reify "race" and to limit our thinking about what these biomedical differences suggest about health disparities and inequalities in general.

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Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is available at the publisher’s Web site. Access to the full text is subject to the publisher’s access restrictions.
Uncontrolled Keywords: USA; Race; Ethnicity; Biomedical research; Genetics; Health disparities
Subjects: Health > Health Equity
Health > Disparities
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Depositing User: Users 141 not found.
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2011 15:49
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2011 15:49
Link to this item (URI): http://health-equity.lib.umd.edu/id/eprint/2676

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