Low Rates Of Reporting Race, Ethnicity, And Socioeconomic Status In Studies Published In Top Orthopaedic Journals

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Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery


Background:Although there have been calls for the routine reporting of patient demographics associated with health disparities, including race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES), in published research, the extent to which these variables are reported in orthopaedic journals remains unclear.Methods:We identified and examined all research articles with human cohorts published in 2019 in the 2 highest-ranked U.S. general orthopaedics journals, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research and The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. Excluded from analysis were studies with no U.S.-based institution and those that did not report any demographic data. Articles were reviewed to determine study type; reporting of race, ethnicity, and any of 3 SES variables (i.e., income, education, and health-care insurance); and the inclusion of these demographics in multivariable analyses.Results:A total of 156 articles met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 56 (35.9%) reported patient race and 24 (15.4%) reported patient ethnicity. Income was reported in 13 (8.3%) of the articles, education in 23 (14.7%), and health insurance in 18 (11.5%). Of the 97 papers that reported results of multivariable analyses, 30 (30.9%) included race in the analysis and 21 (21.6%) reported significance associated with race. Income, education, and health insurance were included in multivariable analyses in 7 (7.2%), 11 (11.3%), and 10 (10.3%) of the articles, respectively.Conclusions:Race, ethnicity, and SES were infrequently reported and analyzed within articles published in 2 of the top orthopaedic journals. This problem may be remedied if orthopaedic journals impose standards for the reporting and analysis of patient demographics in studies with human cohorts.Clinical Relevance:Failure to report key demographics makes it difficult for practitioners to determine whether study results apply to their patient populations. In addition, when orthopaedic interventions are evaluated without accounting for potential disparities by demographics, clinicians may incorrectly assume that the overall benefits and risks reported in studies apply equally to all patients.

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