(HealthDay News) — Reacting to recent controversy, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced Thursday a series of steps it will take to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the medical society and its network of 12 journals.
Howard Bauchner, MD, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), is stepping down at the end of June, forced out over controversial statements made by one of his deputies in February. The deputy editor, Ed Livingston, MD, argued in a JAMA podcast that structural racism no longer exists in the United States or in the field of medicine. Those statements were “wrong, misguided and uninformed,” JAMA said in an editorial published online June 3. “An extensive evidence base strongly supports the presence of structural racism in medicine and its adverse influence on health.”
Bauchner and his editorial team have issued apologies regarding the podcast and a related tweet, taking responsibility for a flawed review process that allowed it to be aired. “These events and developments make it clear that JAMA and the JAMA Network Journals can and must do better and advance toward inclusion and antiracism in all journal-related activities,” the editorial says. “Even though these journals have made progress, additional commitment and work are needed to build on and intensify these efforts to achieve meaningful, sustainable change.”
Along with the editorial, the AMA outlined a series of guidelines to improve its response to systemic racism. They include: making diversity, equity, and inclusion part of the mission statements of JAMA and its network journals; appointing an editorial director of equity who will report directly to the JAMA editor-in-chief, and a diversity committee that will track progress; convening a multidisciplinary summit to promote diversity; improving diversity among the editors, editorial boards, advisory committees, and editorial staff of JAMA and network journals; expanding the editorial fellowship program and holding seminars on scientific writing to promote participation among underrepresented groups; and promoting and publishing more research on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including peer reviewers and opinion authors with expertise in diversity issues.
“This is all for the good. The intersection between society, health, and equity is clear and addressing structural racism, including in medical journalism, is essential to improving health,” the JAMA guidelines say. “Change is a dynamic process and input is a key driver of change.”