JAMA editor leaves after outcry over colleague’s remarks about racism
Following an outcry over comments about racism made by an editor at JAMA, the influential medical journal, senior editor Dr. Howard Bauchner will step down on June 30.
The move was announced Tuesday by the American Medical Association, which oversees the journal. Dr Bauchner, who had headed JAMA since 2011, had been on administrative leave since March due to an ongoing investigation into comments made on the journal’s podcast.
Dr Edward Livingston, another editor of JAMA, had argued that socio-economic factors, not structural racism, held back communities of color. A tweet promoting the podcast said that no doctor can be racist. It was deleted later.
“I remain deeply disappointed in myself for the shortcomings that led to the publication of the tweet and the podcast,” Dr Bauchner said in a statement. “While I didn’t write or even see the tweet, or create the podcast, as editor, I’m ultimately responsible for it.”
Last month, WADA leaders admitted making serious mistakes and proposed a three-year plan to “dismantle structural racism” within the organization and in medicine. Tuesday’s announcement did not mention the progress of the JAMA investigation. The newspaper declined to comment further.
“This is a real moment for JAMA and WADA to recreate themselves from a founding story based on segregation and racism to a story now based on racial equity,” said Dr Stella Safo, treatment physician. black primaries at Icahn. Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Dr Safo and his colleagues launched a petition, now signed by more than 9,000 people, who called on JAMA to restructure its staff and organize a series of town hall conversations on racism in medicine. “I think it’s a step in the right direction,” she said of the announcement.
But other critics said they were restraining their judgment to see how the organization approached what they saw as a pervasive neglect to cover the impact of racism on health in its newspapers.
“In the history of all the journals in the JAMA network, there has been only one non-white editor,” noted Dr. Raymond Givens, cardiologist at Columbia University in New York. In October, Dr Givens wrote to Dr Bauchner, noting that the editors of JAMA journals were predominantly white and male. Dr Bauchner did not respond, according to Dr Givens.
“This is no cause for celebration,” he said of the announcement, adding that he had no intention of jeopardizing Dr Bauchner’s work. Appointing a color editor won’t solve the problems either, Dr Givens said.
“Looking for just a person of color misses the point,” he added. “I’m more interested in a bold voice. I want someone who is ready to take a stand, to get things done. “
The podcast that sparked the events aired on February 24 and did not include any black researchers or experts on racism in medicine.
“Structural racism is an unfortunate term,” Dr. Livingston, who is white, said on the podcast. “Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. A lot of people like me are offended by the implication that we are somehow racist. “
The podcast was promoted with a tweet from the newspaper that read, “No doctor is racist, so how can there be structural racism in healthcare? Following widespread protests in the medical community, the newspaper withdrew the podcast and deleted the tweet.
“The comments made in the podcast were inaccurate, offensive, hurtful and inconsistent with JAMA standards,” said Dr. Bauchner. in a report released a week later. “We are putting in place changes that will resolve and prevent such failures from happening again.”
Dr Livingston then resigned and WADA placed Dr Bauchner on administrative leave on March 25.
The JAMA family of journals added four new titles under the leadership of Dr. Bauchner and expanded to include podcasts, videos and new types of shorter articles. But critics noted that journals rarely addressed structural racism in medicine and more often published articles linking health disparities to socio-economic or biological factors.
Dr Bauchner’s exit offered journals a chance to improve, said Dr Mary Bassett, professor of health and human rights practice at Harvard University.
“Medical journals have helped build the racist idea that races have inherent differences that affect health,” Dr Bassett said. Newspapers are “challenged to embrace, not just accept, racism as a health issue.”
Dr Bauchner told The New York Times last month that JAMA had published “over 100 articles on issues such as the social determinants of health, health care disparities and structural racism over the past five years. years only “. He also noted that JAMA only accepted a tiny fraction of the manuscripts it received.
He said in Tuesday’s statement that the newspaper would be better served by his resignation. “The best way forward for the JAMA network, and for me personally, is to create an opportunity for new leadership at JAMA,” he said.
In one editorial published in JAMA on Tuesday, colleagues at the journal praised Dr Bauchner’s leadership, saying he “left an indelible legacy of progress, innovation and excellence in medical journalism.”
WADA said it had started looking for Dr Bauchner’s replacement. The journal’s editor, Dr Phil Fontanarosa, will act as interim editor.
Whoever the new editor is, he will have to recognize the profound impact structural racism has on the health outcomes of communities of color, Dr Bassett said.
“Racism works in a structural way and not just the result of ignorant, misguided or even racist individuals,” she added. “As a new editor is sought, there will be a chance for JAMA to lead the dismantling of this idea. I hope they catch it.