Today there is a renewed call to action for all medical researchers to confront systemic racism,” write the editors of ten North American primary care and family medicine journals. Racism is a pervasive and systemic issue that has profound adverse effects on health.
As evidenced by the current coronavirus pandemic, race is a sociopolitical construct that continues to disadvantage Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other People of Color. The editors of 10 North American family medicine journals have issued a joint statement that amplifies calls to action from antiracist and Black Lives Matter movements in the pursuit of health equity. The statement also outlines immediate steps the journals will take to address equity, justice and systemic racism in primary care research.
The statement, published today by the major North American medical journals for family medicine, including peer-reviewed publications from the American Academy of Family Physicians and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, places deliberate attention on the role of systemic racism in creating inequalities in health and the need to make immediate changes within the academic medical community to further equity and racial justice.
Caroline Richardson, M.D., the Dr. Max and Buena Lichter Research Professor of Family Medicine and Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of Family Medicine, along with nine other journal editors, write, “In the wake of disproportionate deaths of Black people due to racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic, a fundamental transformation is warranted, and family physicians can play a key role.”
The team of editors provides an extensive reading list that covers research and essays on the topics of racism in medicine, navigating medicine as a minority physician, and the impact of racism on racial health disparities. The editorial recommends, for example, a 2016 essay from Dr. J. Nwando Olayiwola, chair of family medicine at the Ohio State University, on her experiences caring for patients as a Black family physician and a 2020 article co-authored by Dr. Eduardo Medina, a family physician and public health scholar, on the convergence of COVID-19 and racial injustice in Black communities. The editors’ reading list is available online.
The authors, who helm some of the most prestigious primary care medical journals, also provide an inward examination of racism in “the intellectual home for our profession.” They commit to taking immediate steps to address systemic bias and racism within their publications, including the recruitment and mentorship of editors and authors from groups underrepresented in medicine and the cultivation of content that emphasizes the impact of racism on medicine and health. The authors conclude, “We recognize that these are small steps in an ongoing process of active antiracism, but we believe these steps are crucial. As editors in family medicine, we are committed to progress toward equity and justice.”
Authors of “Systemic Racism and Health Disparities: A Statement from Editors of Family Medicine Journals,” include: Sumi M. Sexton, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the American Family Physician; Caroline R. Richardson, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of Family Medicine; Sarina B. Schrager, MD, MS, Editor-in-Chief of FPM; Marjorie A. Bowman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine; John Hickner, MD, MSc, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Family Practice; Christopher P. Morley, PhD, MA, Editor-in-Chief of PRiMER: Peer-Reviewed Reports in Medical Education Research; Timothy F. Mott, MD, Editor-in-Chief of FPIN’s Evidence Based Practice; Nicholas Pimlott, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Family Physician; John W. Saultz, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Family Medicine; and Barry D. Weiss, MD, Editor-in-Chief of FP Essentials.