Use of racial terminology on Radiopaedia.org
This style guide article outlines the use of racial terminology on Radiopaedia.org.
Race and ethnicity is a complex topic with a history of, and potential use for, discrimination. There are many issues in the use of race in medicine, mainly centred on definition, identification and relevance, along with a lack of over-arching guidelines from international bodies such as the World Health Organisation.
The idea of race and ethnicity is complex and steeped in historical definitions, which have been and still are used for discriminatory purposes. Ideas around the basis of race and ethnicity revolve around:
- shared cultural homogeneity
- shared genetic homogeneity
All of these are problematic in medicine and each cannot be used as a definition in isolation as race and ethnicity is based within society but with a genetic basis.
Racial identification is difficult, mainly relating to the lack of definition as outlined above. In and before the 20th century racial definitions were constructed mainly on the basis of racial superiority, and their current relevance and use is debated. There is no consensus definition on racial identification.
Self-identification and physical appearances do not correlate well with an individual’s genetics. A person who is deemed “white” (by self-identification or profiling) for example may have an Asian or black parent/grandparent, while a person who is deemed “black” (by self-identification or profiling) may have in fact have a white or Asian parent/grandparent.
The relevance of racial identification in medicine has been debated. One argument that has been brought forward is the genetic basis of disease, with higher rates of particular diseases in certain racial groups. Against this argument is that there are ethnic variations within racial groups that make racial identification less useful; relevant family history is much more important 1.
At Radiopaedia.org we encourage the use of race or ethnicity if it is relevant to the teaching value of the case or article, just as age or sex may be relevant. We will leave the judgement of relevance to the contributor but this will be moderated by the editorial board.
There is no set of defined terms to be used on Radiopaedia.org. The use of discriminatory, malicious or defamatory terms (as judged by the senior editorial board) will not be tolerated and will result in immediate suspension.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, comments or concerns about the use of racial terminology on Radiopaedia.org.
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- 1. Braun L, Fausto-Sterling A, Fullwiley D et-al. Racial categories in medical practice: how useful are they?. PLoS Med. 2007;4 (9): e271. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040271 - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 2. Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data. National Academies Press. ISBN:0309140129. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon