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Fam Med. 2001 Jun;33(6):430-4.

The role of race in the clinical presentation.

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Department of Family Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA.


What role, if any, should race play in clinical presentations? While race is widely used as a way of identifying patients, this practice has been challenged as conceptually flawed, potentially misleading, and possibly prejudicial to the patient. There are, however; important reasons for not excluding information about race. This article includes a set of guidelines for the inclusion of racial data in presentations: (1) Race is a social construct and, if used, should be recorded in the social history, not the opening sentence of the presentation. (2) Patients should self-identity their race or races. (3) Race should not be used as a proxy for genetic variation, social class, or other elements of the social history. (4) Clinicians should be mindful of the potential influence of racism in the clinical encounter.

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