Diversity in Medical Illustrations

You know that saying about a picture being worth a thousand words? Well, turns out those words can be pretty biased – who knew, right? The representation of diversity in medical illustrations is a critically important topic with the potential to revolutionize the healthcare system, particularly by empowering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

Lack of Diversity in Medical Illustrations and the Need for Inclusion

Studies have highlighted a notable trend in the representation within medical textbooks, scientific models, and clinical studies, where white bodies are consistently depicted as the standard, leading to a significant underrepresentation of BIPOCs. A 2018 study revealed that a mere 4.5 percent of images in medical textbooks depicted dark skin. Another analysis in 2021 found that only 18 percent of medical images in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine depicted non-white skin.

Impacts on People of Color and the Healthcare System

The absence of diversity in medical illustrations has extensive consequences. In addition to failing to provide representation for BIPOC patients, it also can lead to misdiagnoses and inappropriate treatments. The experiences and needs of BIPOCs are often overlooked or misunderstood, contributing to daily instances of incorrect diagnosis and the dismissal of pain. This lack of diversity in medical illustrations has profound effects, with the possibility that BIPOC patients feel unseen, unheard, and often believe that their needs and experiences are not adequately considered. Moreover, the absence of diversity can reinforce stereotypes and perpetuate biases in healthcare, ultimately compromising the quality of care provided to patients.

Breathing basics

Time for Change and the Role of Medudy

Let's join forces to address the urgent issue of discrimination in healthcare. At Medudy, we're committed to fostering diversity in medical illustrations, acknowledging the need for accurate representation in depicting diseases and symptoms across various skin tones, genders, and body types. While our illustrators are dedicated to continuous learning, we recognize the importance of collaboration. As a small company, we invite experts and individuals alike to work with us, share tips, provide guidance, and collectively strive for positive change. Together, we can make a meaningful impact on inclusivity in healthcare.

It is time for us to collaboratively expedite more accurate diagnoses and improve treatments.

The need for change fortunately does not go unnoticed. Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Deloitte, and the Association of Medical Illustrators have recognized the necessity for a transformation. Hence, they have initiated the "Illustrate Change" initiative, aiming to build an extensive library of medical illustrations authentically reflecting the diversity of skin tones and ethnic backgrounds.

Posterior skeletal anatomy

Together for a Better Future:

This is a call for change addressed to all healthcare professionals, experts, and individuals who recognize the significance of diversity in medical illustrations. This transformation can only be achieved collectively, so we urge everyone to join this process and actively participate! Feel free to reach out to Medudy, as only through collaboration can innovative solutions be developed, resources shared, and best practices established to create a more inclusive and representative medical visual language.

Get ready for more insightful posts this Black History Awareness Month as we strive to enhance diversity and fairness in the medical field. Stay tuned for updates and engaging content!

Lucas Krausse
Co-founder & CMO
Medudy