Diseases are sometimes linked to specific populations. In current medicine race is, therefore, deployed to achieve more accurate medical diagnosis and treatment of patients. This medical-sociological analysis explores the definitions of race and ethnicity and the role of race in medical practice in the Netherlands. The concept of race is historically based on the belief in biological differences between these assigned races; today there is a wide-spread medical scientific consensus that racial bio-genetic grounds hold little evidence. This realisation, however, does not dismiss race, since race is still pervasive given its social reality. While race and ethnicity are sometimes used interchangeably, race is more grounded in bio-essential characteristics while ethnicity is a multi-dimensional concept that is more precise and includes more socio-cultural components. In an illustrative case study we unravel the role of race in medical practice in the Netherlands. Our results pose questions about racial classification by GPs, and transnational applicability of racialised research.
Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.