Genomics and Health Care Disparities

The Role of Statistical Discrimination

JAMA: 11/8/12

Ten years ago, 2 events occurred that have transformed biomedical research. In 2001, the draft sequence of the human genome was announced. One year later, the Institute of Medicine released “Unequal Treatment,” the first comprehensive report on racial and ethnic health care disparities in the United States.Although the report downplayed the contribution of genetics to disparities, enthusiasm about the human genome spread rapidly to disparities research, creating a new field focused on translating knowledge of human genetic variation into reductions in disparities in health and health care.This Viewpoint examines the potential contribution of 2 pathways in this field—the identification of genetic variation as a cause of disparities and the reduction of clinical uncertainty and statistical discrimination. The terms race and ethnicity are used to mean socially determined, generally self-reported, categories. Read more