Heterogeneity of Risk within Racial Groups, a Challenge for Public Health Programs

Preventive Medicine 55 (5):405-408 (2012)
Abstract
Targeting high-risk populations for public health interventions is a classic tool of public health promotion programs. This practice becomes thornier when racial groups are identified as the at-risk populations. I present the particular ethical and epistemic challenges that arise when there are low-risk subpopulations within racial groups that have been identified as high-risk for a particular health concern. I focus on two examples. The black immigrant population does not have the same hypertension risk as US-born African Americans. Similarly, Finnish descendants have a far lower rate of cystic fibrosis than other Caucasians. In both cases the exceptional nature of these subpopulations has been largely ignored by the designers of important public health efforts, including the recent US government dietary recommendations. I argue that amending the publicly-disseminated risk information to acknowledge these exceptions would be desirable for several reasons. First, recognizing low-risk subpopulations would allow more efficient use of limited resources. Communicating this valuable information to the subpopulations would also promote truth-telling. Finally, presenting a more nuanced empirically-supported representation of which groups are at known risk of diseases (not focusing on mere racial categories) would combat harmful biological race essentialist views held by the public.
Keywords philosophy of epidemiology  public health ethics  race  cystic fibrosis  hypertension  truth-telling
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 25,751
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Risk, Risk Groups and Population Health.M. Verweij & A. Dawson - 2012 - Public Health Ethics 5 (3):213-215.
The Ethics of Truth-Telling and the Problem of Risk.Paul B. Thompson - 1999 - Science and Engineering Ethics 5 (4):489-510.
Ethics and Public Health Emergencies: Encouraging Responsibility.Matthew K. Wynia - 2007 - American Journal of Bioethics 7 (4):1 – 4.
Public Health and Public Goods.Jonny Anomaly - 2011 - Public Health Ethics 4 (3):251-259.
Measurement Error in Racial and Ethnic Statistics.Michael Root - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):375-385.
Public Health, Ethics, and Functional Foods.Doris Schroeder - 2007 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 20 (3):247-259.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2012-12-07

Total downloads

7 ( #509,252 of 2,146,876 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #385,700 of 2,146,876 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums