The American Medical Association on Thursday released a document with guidance on how to support physicians’ conversations with patients using “equity-focused, first-person language.”
The document cites that language “commonly used” ought to be replaced with words inspired by “critical race theory … gender studies, disability studies, as well as scholarship from social medicine.”
“Narratives that uncritically center meritocracy and individualism render invisible the very real constraints generated and reinforced by poverty, discrimination and ultimately exclusion,” the document reads.
“Yet a rich tradition of work in health equity and related fields, including critical race theory (defined in the glossary), gender studies, disability studies, as well as scholarship from social medicine, gives us a foundation for an alternative narrative, one that challenges the status quo, one that moves health care towards justice.”
While the 54-page document states that it intends to “notice and question dominant narratives,” it then goes on to offer a glossary of terms as to what a “commonly used” word — used by doctors — should be replaced with, such as the “equity-focused atlernative” terms spanning the length of the document.
Among a few “suggestions for equity-focused communication” include changing social problem to “social injustice,” vulnerable to “oppressed,” slave to “enslaved person” master and slave, in the context of technology applications to “active/standby, writer/reader, and leader/follower” and Caucasian to “white” and black to “Black.”
The document then goes on to trade on ambiguity when referring to an “able-bodied person,” leaving one with a lack of knowledge of the private language in the guideline, what is being referred to as an able-bodied person.
An able-bodied person is a term, according to the guideline, used to “describe someone who does not identify as having a disability. Some members of the disability community oppose its use because it implies that all people with disabilities lack ‘able bodies’ or the ability to use their bodies well. They may prefer ‘non-disabled’ or ‘enabled’ as being more accurate.”
In May, AMA President Gerald Harmon issued a statement outlining how the medical association was preparing to release such a document, including of “alternative” language set for this year.
“I am fully committed to this cause, its purpose and the work ahead. We are called to this moment. I invite you to join us as we march toward a more just, equitable and healthy future for all,” Harmon stated.