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The Term Hispanic/Latino  A Note of Caution

Natalia Jaimes, MD; Virginia Londono, MD; Allan C. Halpern, MD
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(3):274-275. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.1304.
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The “Hispanic” or “Latino” population is receiving increasing attention in the medical literature. A search in PubMed using the term Hispanic or Latino within the title demonstrates a dramatic increase in articles over time, with 295 articles between January 2000 and December 2001 vs 970 articles over the same 24-month interval 1 decade later. We randomly selected some of these articles and observed common patterns when using these terms, such as a failure to provide a specific definition for Hispanic or Latino, interchangeable use of the terms Hispanic and Latino, and lack of stratification of the members of the “Hispanic/Latino” group under consideration. While not consistently reported, some studies did provide the source of their Hispanic/Latino attribution such as US Census data, medical records, birth certificate information, or self-reported race/ethnicity.

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Figure. Definitions for “Hispanic” and “Latino.” One definition for the term Latino refers to persons whose origin or ancestries are from countries of Latin America (A). The US Office of Management and Budget uses the terms Hispanic and Latino interchangeably to refer to persons who indicated that their origin is Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American, or other Spanish culture or Spanish-speaking country or origin, regardless of race (B). Other definitions for the term Hispanic include individuals whose origin or ancestry comes from Hispania, the former name for the Iberian Peninsula (C), and Spanish-speaking persons of Latin American descent living in the United States (D).

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