Consider structural racism in health disparity research, editors of an American Heart Association journal say

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Keep the effects of structural racism in mind when conducting research on racial and ethnic health disparities, editors of the American Heart Association's Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes journal said in a statement published Feb. 11. 

The new guidance says while previous research attributes many health disparities to individual factors or local systems, the underlying societal factors should be acknowledged moving forward. 

The statement recommends the following best practices for health disparities research:

1. Develop questions and methodological strategies informed by conceptual frameworks. 

2. Explicitly describe rationale and classification for inclusion of racial and ethnic patient populations in the methods section. 

3. Form diverse and inclusive study teams and cite their scholarship.

4. Contextualize discussion of results within conceptual frameworks and models. 

5. Avoid generalized genetic explanations for racial and ethnic disparities. 

The guidelines are effective immediately to all research submitted to the journal. They're also being considered by the AHA'a 11 other scientific journals. 

"Scientific journals are part of the groundwater of the research and healthcare community," said Khadijah Breathett, MD, lead statement author and cardiologist at Tucson, Ariz.-based Banner University Medical Center. "Structural racism underlies the widespread disparities in health and health outcomes that are ubiquitous in the published literature and, thus, must be at the forefront of disparities research." 

To read the full guidance, click here. 

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