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J Dent Assoc S Afr. 1989 Aug;44(8):337-9.

Racial classification in dental literature: is it always necessary?


The purpose of the present study is to describe and analyse the use of terms (black, coloured, white, indian, african and non-white) that classify people for research purposes along racial lines. All scientific articles published in the Journal of the Dental Association of South Africa, from Jan 1979 to Dec 1988, were reviewed. Of the 493 articles covered, 92 made use of one or more of the terms, and 10 (11 per cent) either explained, defined, referenced and/or justified their use, while 09 per cent of the articles did not do so. Based on these reviews, it may be concluded that the use of these terms is not always necessary or justified and can reinforce thinking in racial rather than in social and behavioural terms. The unjustified usage of racial variables may limit our theoretical perspectives and lead us into questionable research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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