Race is often used as a descriptor of disease burden and helps us to determine where health disparities exist in order to address them, which is important. It is helpful to differentiate between race as a descriptor and race as a risk factor. Think about institutional racism and its influence on health. Consider the factors related to race and ethnicity that might be influencing disease status more than the genetics of race when answering this discussion question.
Consider the following statement: “Race is not a risk factor and should not be used in public health data collection.” Discuss the ethical and public health implications of this statement. When might collecting data on race perpetuate institutional racism leading to health disparities and when is it necessary to improve public health? Provide support and examples for your answer. Consider ethical issues related to respect for persons, beneficence, and justice as described in “The Belmont Report.”
Read “Epidemiology, Policy, and Racial/Ethnic Minority Health Disparities,” by Carter-Pokras et al., from Annals of Epidemiology (2012).