A recent study by researchers at Northeastern University in Boston and Emory University in Atlanta finds that opinion pieces published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), routinely ignore research published in the Journal of the National Medical Association (JNMA).
The National Medical Association was established in 1895 because physicians of color were not permitted to be members of the American Medical Association. Today, the National Medical Association has 30,000 members.
The authors of the new study traced how frequently JAMA and JNMA opinion writers referenced one another from 2008 to 2021 by reviewing the opinion pieces published in JNMA and JAMA during this 13-year period. They found that JAMA opinion columns have continued to, in effect, uphold racial bias and segregation by ignoring JNMA findings.
Specifically, the authors found that while JNMA opinion pieces from 2008 to 2021 cited JAMA 21 times (2.8% of JNMA opinion pieces), JAMA opinion pieces cited JNMA only twice during that same time period (.01% of JAMA opinion pieces). In a period of more than a decade, JAMA opinion authors only cited two articles from JNMA.
The authors conclude that “our analysis shows that JAMA authors rarely cite publications from JNMA, even when writing about issues of racial injustice in health care. Even when writing about issues of racism in health care, a subject JNMA has explored extensively, JAMA authors rarely cite publications from JNMA. This citational exclusion means that over a century of research on the health and well-being of African Americans, often at intersections of care, disparities, and racism, are omitted from JAMA, one of the highest-impact publications in the medical profession. As a result, this knowledge becomes systemically segregated and ghettoized, reducing its ability to influence ongoing medical research and improve care. In other words, epistemological racism has real implications for the patients and communities that knowledge serves.”
The full study, “Citational Racism: How Leading Medical Journals Reproduce Segregation in American Medical Knowledge,” was published on Bill of Health, a website of the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School.