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Lack of racial diversity in medical textbooks could mean inequity in care: study

Last Updated Mar 2, 2018 at 11:59 am PST

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Summary

A study suggests people of colour are mostly ignored in medical textbooks and may get inequitable health care

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A sociology student who noticed posters in her Vancouver doctor’s waiting room featuring white and light skin-toned patients has co-authored a study that suggests people of colour are mostly ignored in medical textbooks and may get inequitable health care.

Patricia Louie is now doing her PhD in racial inequality at the University of Toronto, and has analyzed over 4,000 images in four books that are widely used in North American medical schools.

She found less than one per cent of the images in one of the books featured dark skin, while the highest was five per cent in another textbook.

The findings in a study that includes a University of British Columbia sociology professor are published in the current issue of the journal Social Science and Medicine.

Louie says the textbooks feature very few images of six common cancers, suggesting medical students aren’t exposed to how some cancers shows up in dark-skinned people.

She says other research shows that although blacks are less likely than white people to get skin cancer, they’re more likely to die by the time they’re diagnosed.