The Use of Race in Medical Research
When race is used as a variable in research, there is a tendency to assume that the results obtained are a manifestation of the biology of racial differences; race as a variable implies that a genetir reason may explain differences in incidence, severity, or outcome of medical conditions. Researchers, without saying so, lead readers to assume that certain racial groups have a special predisposition, risk, or susceptibility to the illnesses studied. Since this presupposition is seldom warranted, this kind of comparison may be taken to represent a subtle form of racism. B"t in any case, although there are ethical problems with the search for genetic reasons to explain certain types of diseases, the scientific pitfalls that stand in the way of ethnic research are formidable since racial status is highly correlated with social, economic, and political factors. We will explore the practical problems and examine the consequences of using race as a category in medical research.