Recently, specific policy statements have been published in pediatric journals that question the use of race and ethnicity (R/E) in health care research.
To determine why researchers may or may not collect R/E data and to find out their opinion on the importance of R/E and SMs to their research.
All full-length articles published in the print edition of 3 general pediatric journals published between July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2000, were collected and reviewed. Articles were excluded if they did not include at least 1 US researcher, all subjects at US institutions, some prospective data collection, or enrolled less than 8 or more than 10 000 subjects. We recorded whether the articles documented R/E, socioeconomic markers (SMs), or both in the "Results" section and whether they discussed their significance. Corresponding authors (or researchers) were surveyed to clarify the R/E data, to determine why they had or had not collected R/E data, and to elicit their opinion on the importance of R/E and SMs to their research.
One hundred ninety-two studies qualified for further review. One hundred fourteen (59%) reported R/E but only 44 (23%) discussed it. Even fewer 74 (39%) reported both R/E and SMs, and only 33 (17%) discussed both. Researchers collected R/E data because they thought it was relevant and because it described the subject population. Seventy-five percent of the researchers who responded to the survey thought R/E and 63% thought SMs were relevant to their research, and this influenced whether they reported and discussed R/E (P<.001, χ2 test) and whether they discussed SMs (P<.001, χ2 test).
Pediatric statements will require that researchers not mention R/E or explore the extent to which R/E disparities are confounded by other SMs. This will require a cultural shift because many researchers believe that R/E is relevant to their research, and yet, they infrequently report SMs.