Stephen Epstein's Critique on Medical Research

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Medical Research or Medical Practice That Considers Identity Categories Like Race to Be Self-Evident and Obvious Biology: Stephen Epstein's Critique

There have recently been questions about the early medical emphasis on racial, ethnic, and gender distinctions. In the past, various groups of doctors, researchers, health advocates, and policymakers have adopted a murky and conflicting understanding of racial and ethnic differences, the nature of gender and sex, and the connection between the social and biological manifestation of different physical illnesses.

Women have historically had lower representation in several fields. For instance, in the study of heart complications and women related issues like cancer of the breast and uterus, men are used instead of women who are understudied due to factors like FDA’s restrictions, and reliance on researchers of Administration of Veterans hospitals (Epstein, 2004). Problematic biomedical research objects come about when such consideration as men being easy to study, being prototypical humans are given priority over women who are perceived as deviant and opposite to men. On the claims that women can tolerate more pain than men and that they consume less oxygen than men hence less active, Stephen Epstein argues that such self-evident biological conceptions of gender and sex differences extrapolates problems and thus wise to test for differences.

Similarly, there have been many findings and reports on ethnic and racial differences in course and extend of disease treatment and their effects, an example being that of antidepressants and antihypertensive drugs. Despite some experts calling for the inclusion of these minority in subject populations, various claims like people of color being hard to recruit and their refusal to be used as ‘guinea pig’ still presented a challenge to government investing in health issues. As Stephen goes ahead to critique, the race is aa a result of a nation’s political and social history, and this is no longer tenable and should not be considered as a biological classification. Predispositions to genetic and racial reasons to explain incidence, outcomes, severity and medical conditions is a representation of a subtle form of racism and not real medicine.


Epstein, S. (2004). Bodily differences and collective identities: The politics of gender and race in biomedical research in the United States. Body & Society, 10(2-3), 183-203.

March 23, 2023
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Research Gender Sex

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