Nav: Home

More diversity needed in medical school textbooks: Study

March 01, 2018

Depictions of race and skin tone in anatomy textbooks widely used in North American medical schools could be contributing to racial bias in medical treatment, new research suggests.

Findings of the study, carried out by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of Toronto (U of T), found dark skin tones are underrepresented in a number of chapters where their appearance may be the most useful, including chapters on skin cancer detection.

"We found there is little diversity in skin tone in these textbooks," said the study's lead author Patricia Louie, who began the research at UBC and is now a PhD student at U of T. "Proportional to the population, race is represented fairly accurately, but this diversity is undermined by the fact that the images mostly depict light skin tones."

For the study, researchers analyzed the race and skin tone of more than 4,000 human images in four medical textbooks: Atlas of Human Anatomy, Bates' Guide to Physical Examination & History Taking, Clinically Oriented Anatomy and Gray's Anatomy for Students.

The proportion of dark skin tones represented in all four books was very small. In Atlas, fewer than one per cent of photos featured dark skin, compared to about eight per cent in Bates', about one per cent in Clinically, and about five per cent in Gray's. More than 70 per cent of the individuals depicted in Clinically and 88 per cent in Gray's had light skin tones, while Atlas featured almost no skin tone diversity (99 per cent light skin tones).

The researchers argue that rates of mortality for some cancers-- breast, cervical, colon, lung, skin, among others-- are higher on average for black people, often due to late diagnosis.

With skin cancer, for example, physicians need to look for melanomas on nails, hands and feet, but the researchers found no visuals were provided in any of the textbooks as to what this would look like on dark-skinned patients.

UBC sociology professor and study co-author Rima Wilkes said the findings highlight a need to show greater diversity of skin tones in teaching tools used by medical schools.

"Physicians are required to recognize diseases in patients with a variety of different skin tones," said Wilkes. "When light skin-toned bodies are shown as the norm, physicians might miss signs on patients with dark skin tone because they do not know how these abnormalities will present."
-end-
The study was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

University of British Columbia

Related Skin Cancer Articles:

Mother/infant skin-to-skin touch boosts baby's brain development and function
As the world prioritizes social distancing due to COVID-19, research shows that extended use of Kangaroo Care, a skin-to-skin, chest-to-chest method of caring for a baby, can positively benefit full-term infants and their mothers, with important implications for post-partum depression.
IU researcher makes skin cancer discovery
An Indiana University cancer researcher has identified eight new genomic regions that increase a person's risk for skin cancer.
Skin-to-skin contact do not improve interaction between mother and preterm infant
Following a premature birth it is important that the parents and the infant quickly establish a good relationship.
Research reveals potential dangers during skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby following cesarean section birth
Research in the latest edition of the European Journal of Anaesthesiology (the official journal of the European Society of Anaesthesiology) reports the potential dangers of allowing skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby in the operating room, following a cesarean section birth.
Helping skin cells differentiate could be key to treating common skin cancer
A new study from Penn researchers has identified the key regulator that controls how the skin replaces itself and which can determine if cells turn into cancer.
Protein linked to aggressive skin cancer
Almost 300,000 people worldwide develop malignant melanoma each year. The disease is the most serious form of skin cancer and the number of cases reported annually is increasing, making skin cancer one of Sweden's most common forms of cancer.
What if you could spot skin cancer before it got too serious?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.
Unraveling the genetic causes of skin cancer
American University Associate Professor of Biology Katie DeCicco-Skinner and her colleagues are helping to identify the genetic factors that lead to squamous cell carcinoma.
For preterm infants, skin-to-skin contact affects
For premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), skin-to-skin contact with parents influences levels of hormones related to mother-infant attachment (oxytocin) and stress (cortisol) -- and may increase parents' level of engagement with their infants, reports a study in Advances in Neonatal Care, official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.
How skin begins: New research could improve skin grafts, and more
University of Colorado Boulder researchers have discovered a key mechanism by which skin begins to develop in embryos.
More Skin Cancer News and Skin Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.