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Do Race & Ethnicity Data Matter?

"This and the following locked segments will not be translated because the law in Spain forbids collecting data about race and ethnicity."

I included this note for a translation project I worked on earlier this month.


When you translate medical forms from English into Spanish for health care professionals or patients, you will likely find a section asking about race and ethnicity:

  • In the United States, collecting these types of data is customary. I am a US citizen; when I lived there, I used to (mostly voluntarily) disclose my race and ethnicity A LOT, including in job applications.

  • In Spain, however, you will likely not be asked to disclose your race or ethnicity. I do not think I have ever been asked about these there. And as far as I am concerned, it is the same here in Portugal.

Even if Portugal and Spain collected data about race and ethnicity, the options would likely vary compared to the ones used in the US (i.e., localization is your friend).

Does your country allow race and ethnicity data collection? If not, do you think it should be permitted in at least some cases, such as clinical trials?

I look forward to your answers!


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