Rohini Mathur and international co-authors write that high-quality data on race and ethnicity are “pivotal in redressing the historical under representation of diverse populations in clinical research and ensuring that algorithms underpinning patient care do not perpetuate bias and inequalities”. The article is an invited comment as part of The Lancet Series on racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and health.
The authors discuss the difficulties in collecting reliable data on race and ethnicity, including here in the UK where individuals might not feel represented by the standardised categories offered, and concerns with loss of public trust in how individual health data are used. To help rebuild that trust, the authors conclude that:
“Health researchers have a responsibility to ensure they do not inadvertently perpetuate stigma and stereotyping of some racial and ethnic groups. To do so, when hypothesising about and interpreting the mechanisms through which inequalities arise, they must clarify that they are speaking about the cumulative effect of social, structural, interpersonal, and other factors such as racism and discrimination, which are conceptualised as racial and ethnic differences”.