The reporting of race provides transparency to the representativeness of data and helps inform health care disparities. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) developed recommendations to promote quality reporting of race; however, the frequency of reporting continues to be low among most medical journals.
To assess the frequency as well as quality of race reporting among publications from high-ranking broad-focused surgical research journals.
A literature review and bibliometric analysis was performed examining all human-based primary research articles published in 2019 from 7 surgical journals: JAMA Surgery, Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Annals of Surgery, Surgery, American Journal of Surgery, Journal of Surgical Research, and Journal of Surgical Education. The 5 journals that stated they follow the ICMJE recommendations were analyzed against the 2 journals that did not explicitly claim adherence.
Measured study outcomes included race reporting frequency and use of the ICMJE recommendations for quality reporting of race.
A total of 2485 publications were included in the study. The mean (SD) frequency of reporting of race and ethnicity in publications of ICMJE vs non-ICMJE journals was 32.8% (8.4) and 32.0% (20.9), respectively (P = .72). Adherence to ICMJE recommendations for reporting race was more frequent in ICMJE journals than non-ICMJE journals (mean [SD] of 73.1% [17.8] vs 37.0% [10.2]; P < .001).
The frequency of race and ethnicity reporting among surgical journals is low. A journal’s statement of adherence to ICMJE recommendations did not affect the frequency of race and ethnicity reporting; however, there was an increase in the use of ICMJE quality metrics. These findings suggest the need for increased and more standardized reporting of racial and ethnic demographic data among surgical journals.