The use of race variables in genetic studies of complex traits and the goal of reducing health disparities a transdisciplinary perspective

Alexandra E. Shields, Michael Fortun, Evelynn M. Hammonds, Patricia A. King, Caryn Lerman, Rayna Rapp, Patrick F. Sullivan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The use of racial variables in genetic studies has become a matter of intense public debate, with implications for research design and translation into practice. Using research on smoking as a springboard, the authors examine the history of racial categories, current research practices, and arguments for and against using race variables in genetic analyses. The authors argue that the sociopolitical constructs appropriate for monitoring health disparities are not appropriate for use in genetic studies investigating the etiology of complex diseases. More powerful methods for addressing population structure exist, and race variables are unacceptable as gross proxies for numerous social/environmental factors that disproportionately affect minority populations. The authors conclude with recommendations for genetic researchers and policymakers, aimed at facilitating better science and producing new knowledge useful for reducing health disparities.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)77-103
    Number of pages27
    JournalAmerican Psychologist
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychology(all)

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