Updated Guidance on the Reporting of Race and Ethnicity in Medical and Science Journals
The language used to describe study participants in the medical literature is of paramount importance. The objective is to use the terms that people use to describe themselves while also being sensitive and consistent, supporting diversity, and conveying respect. It is also important to medical editors that a style guide reflects their responsibilities and need for clear guidance. To this end, the AMA Manual of Style committee reassessed our guidance on race and ethnicity soon after its release in February 2020 because we realized that our guidance already needed to be updated. We started with some small steps, like deciding to capitalize all racial and ethnic categories including Black and White, and then ended up dismantling the entire section in our quest to develop more robust, comprehensive, and thoughtful guidance. After almost a year of research, updates, external review, and further revision, we published our efforts to garner public feedback, which was successful and led to further revision and review. When we were confident that our guidance met our objectives, we published our revision in August 2021. Our updates include definitions of commonly used terms associated with race and ethnicity, concerns and controversies in health care and research, racial and ethnic collective term usage, alphabetization of racial and ethnic categories, and geographic origin and regionalization considerations, and we provide examples to help guide authors and editors. Our current guidance is more reflective and complete, and we plan to make further revisions as the language and culture evolve.
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