Advancing racial equity in oral health (research): more of the same is not enough

Eur J Oral Sci. 2020 Sep 23. doi: 10.1111/eos.12737. Online ahead of print.


By critically appraising the literature on the oral health effects of race-based oppression, this focus article makes four recommendations that may both facilitate more nuanced research on the topic and mitigate racial/ethnic inequities in (oral) health. The first is recognizing that science itself may perpetuate racial/ethnic injustice, such that adopting a ‘neutral’ position must be replaced with actively fostering anti-racist narratives. The second is to not imply that racial oppression is bad because it harms oral health. Rather, studies should help build a fairer world, wherein oral health inequities would not abound. The third recommendation is encouraging initiatives that understand systems of oppression as conjointly operating to shape oral health. The fourth and final recommendation is taking race-based oppression as a multi-level system that operates on three inter-related conceptual levels – intra-personal, inter-personal, and structural. The extent to which scholars, practitioners, and policymakers are willing to follow these recommendations may determine how successful attempts to eradicate (oral) health inequities might be. Learning from, and avoiding mistakes made in, previous publications is one ethical pathway towards this end.

PMID:32969112 | DOI:10.1111/eos.12737