Health Article

Medicine must stop using race and ethnicity to interpret test results

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Roberto Cigna

SHOULD your race or ethnicity influence the prescription you get from your doctor? Both are still used in medicine to interpret test results and guide treatment decisions, but the evidence is questionable and the approach can cause serious harm.

Medical guidelines in the US, UK and elsewhere often recommend the use of algorithms that contain adjustments for a person’s race or ethnicity, from tools used to assess bone fracture risk to devices containing embedded racial or ethnic adjustments for measuring lung function. The latter can be partly traced back to the suggestion by US slaveholder Samuel Cartwright in the …

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