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This article is the authors’ final published version in JAAOS: Global Research and Reviews, Volume 5, Issue 5, May 2021, Article number e21.00027.

The published version is available at Copyright © Paul et al.


BACKGROUND: The distinction between race and ethnicity should be carefully understood and described for demographic data collection. Racial healthcare differences have been observed across many orthopaedic subspecialties. However, the frequency of reporting and analyzing race and ethnicity in orthopaedic clinical trials has not been determined. Therefore, the primary purpose of this systematic review was to determine how frequently race and ethnicity are reported and analyzed in orthopaedic clinical trials.

METHODS: The top 10 journals by impact factor in the field of orthopaedics were manually screened from 2015 to 2019. All randomized controlled trials related to orthopaedics and assessing clinical outcomes were included. Eligible studies were evaluated for bias using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool and for whether the trial reported and analyzed several demographics, including age, sex, height, weight, race, and ethnicity. The frequency of reporting and analyzing by each demographic was accessed. In addition, comparisons of reporting and analyzing race/ethnicity were made based on orthopaedic subspecialty and journal of publication.

RESULTS: A total of 15,488 publications were screened and 482 met inclusion criteria. Of these 482 trials, 460 (95.4%) reported age and 456 (94.6%) reported sex, whereas 35 (7.3%) reported race and 15 (3.1%) reported ethnicity for the randomized groups; 79 studies (16.4%) analyzed age and 72 studies (14.9%) analyzed sex, whereas 6 studies (1.2%) analyzed race and 1 study (0.2%) analyzed ethnicity. The orthopaedic subspecialty of spine was found to report race (23.5%) and ethnicity (17.6%) more frequently than all the other subspecialties, whereas sports medicine reported race and/or ethnicity in only 3 of 150 trials (2.0%).

CONCLUSIONS: Race and ethnicity are not frequently reported or analyzed in orthopaedic randomized controlled trials. Social context, personal challenges, and economic challenges should be considered while analyzing the effect of race and ethnicity on outcomes.

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