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Description of color/race in Brazilian biomedical research Translated title: Descrição de cor/raça em pesquisas biomédicas brasileiras

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      Abstract

      CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVE: Over recent years, the terms race and ethnicity have been used to ascertain inequities in public health. However, this use depends on the quality of the data available. This study aimed to investigate the description of color/race in Brazilian scientific journals within the field of biomedicine. DESIGN AND SETTING: Descriptive study with systematic search for scientific articles in the SciELO Brazil database. METHODS: A wide-ranging systematic search for original articles involving humans, published in 32 Brazilian biomedical scientific journals in the SciELO Brazil database between January and December 2008, was performed. Articles in which the race/ethnicity of the participants was identified were analyzed. RESULTS: In total, 1,180 articles were analyzed. The terms for describing race or ethnicity were often ambiguous and vague. Descriptions of race or ethnicity occurred in 159 articles (13.4%), but only in 42 (26.4%) was there a description of how individuals were identified. In these, race and ethnicity were used almost interchangeably and definition was according to skin color (71.4%), ancestry (19.0%) and self-definition (9.6%). Twenty-two races or ethnicities were cited, and the most common were white (37.3%), black (19.7%), mixed (12.9%), nonwhite (8.1%) and yellow (8.1%). CONCLUSION: The absence of descriptions of parameters for defining race, as well as the use of vague and ambiguous terms, may hamper and even prevent comparisons between human groups and the use of these data to ascertain inequities in healthcare.

      Translated abstract

      CONTEXTO E OBJETIVO: Nos últimos anos os termos raça e etnia têm sido usados para verificar iniquidades em saúde pública. Entretanto, o uso dos termos depende da qualidade dos dados disponíveis. O presente estudo teve como objetivo verificar a descrição de cor/raça em revistas científicas brasileiras da área biomédica. TIPO DE ESTUDO E LOCAL: Estudo descritivo com busca sistemática de artigos científicos da base de dados SciELO Brasil. MÉTODOS: Foi realizada uma ampla busca sistemática de artigos originais envolvendo seres humanos, publicados em 32 revistas científicas biomédicas brasileiras da base de dados SciELO Brasil, publicados no período de janeiro a dezembro de 2008. Foram analisados artigos em que as raças/etnias dos participantes da pesquisa foram identificadas. RESULTADOS: Ao todo foram analisados 1.180 artigos. Os termos para descrever a raça ou etnia foram frequentemente ambíguos e vagos. A descrição da raça ou etnia ocorreu em 159 (13,4%) artigos, mas somente em 42 (26,4%) havia a descrição de como os indivíduos foram identificados. Nestes, raça e etnia foram usados praticamente como sinônimos e a definição ocorreu pela cor da pele (71,4%), ancestralidade (19,0%) e autodefinição (9,6%). Foram citadas 22 raças/etnias, sendo as mais comuns a branca (37,3%), a negra (19,7%), a parda (12,9%), a não-branca (8,1%) e a amarela (8,1%). CONCLUSÃO: A ausência de descrição de parâmetros para definir raça, bem como termos vagos e ambíguos, pode dificultar e mesmo inviabilizar a comparação de grupos humanos e a utilização desses dados para verificar iniquidades em saúde.

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      Most cited references 10

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      How inconsistencies in racial classification demystify the race construct in public health statistics.

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        "Race" and "ethnicity" in biomedical research: how do scientists construct and explain differences in health?

         C. LEE,  E. LEE,  C. Lee (2009)
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          What to make of it? The (Re)emergence of a biological conceptualization of race in health disparities research.

           Reanne Frank (2007)
          The debate over the role of race/ethnicity in determining disease susceptibility has re-emerged since it was declared that race was arbitrary biological fiction more than 50 years ago. Partly due to advancements in the Human Genome Project and related technologies, the idea that race/ethnicity does have a genetic basis is enjoying a resurgence. A rise in the use of race in genetic studies has left many researchers who are committed to a social conceptualization of race at a loss regarding how to evaluate these developments. The commentary attempts to correct the problem by providing a critical review of the state of research on race, genetics and health. This review aims to bring social health disparities researchers up-to-date on developments in the genetic literature and to facilitate a more critical engagement of research that purports to find a genetic basis to racial disparities in health.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] Universidade de Brasília Brazil
            [2 ] Centro Universitário de Brasília Brazil
            Contributors
            Role: ND
            Role: ND
            Journal
            spmj
            Sao Paulo Medical Journal
            Sao Paulo Med. J.
            Associação Paulista de Medicina - APM (São Paulo )
            1806-9460
            2012
            : 130
            : 2
            : 115-118
            S1516-31802012000200008
            10.1590/S1516-31802012000200008

            http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

            Product
            Product Information: SciELO Brazil
            Categories
            MEDICINE, GENERAL & INTERNAL

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