Skin of Color Representation in eBooks

Jordan Lamb, a medical student in the Clinical Scientist Training Program at Pitt Med, worked with HSLS librarians to locate and purchase several dermatology eBooks featuring skin of color, following a curriculum audit at the School of Medicine. After reviewing the lecture slides presented in Pitt Med’s first- and second-year classes, she found that “the majority of images in all courses, not just for dermatology, were of white skin.” Presentation of skin conditions (for example, psoriasis) can differ significantly on white skin (typically red patches) and on brown or black skin (typically purple patches). Lamb explained, “A lack of representation of all skin colors leads to a knowledge gap for students. Physicians are also less confident with diagnosing skin disease presenting on brown or black skin.”

A goal of her research project is to provide resources to instructors at the School of Medicine that can be used to increase the diversity of skin color representation in the curriculum. In studies like “Representations of Race and Skin Tone in Medical Textbook Imagery,” analysis shows that most of the images in “mainstream” dermatology and medical school textbooks are of white skin. However, the skin of color textbooks identified by Lamb expertly display skin conditions on brown and black skin. Lamb’s Visual Learning Equity: Resource Guide shares access information for HSLS eBooks as well as other free galleries of images on publicly available websites. Two examples of eBooks accessible at Pitt are “Taylor and Kelly’s Dermatology for Skin of Color” and “Atlas of Black Skin.”

Taylor and Kelly’s Dermatology for Skin of Color” (2nd edition, 2016, McGraw-Hill) is written by experts in the field of dermatology. This is an extensive textbook that looks at skin disorders, skin cancer, and other diseases that present on skin; it also includes a cultural discussion of skin of color and highlights international pioneers in dermatology. This eBook is part of AccessMedicine, a multi-resource platform that allows users to listen to sections of text, search the eBook for keywords, and download slides with figures and tables. Additionally, creating a free MyAccess Profile allows you to star chapters or figures for later referral. This eBook is viewable through the mobile-friendly AccessMedicine website and can also be accessed through the AccessMedicine app.

An atlas is a book that features many images with minimal supplemental text. “Dermatology Atlas for Skin of Color” (2014, Springer) uses images with a broad representation of skin of color, while the “Atlas of Black Skin” (2020, Springer) is unique for focusing solely on black skin. The images in “Atlas of Black Skin” are organized by chapter, with sections devoted to infections, keloids, cancers, and common conditions of black skin. Within the EBSCOhost platform, you can email, save, or print up to 15 pages of an eBook. Each chapter in this eBook concludes with a suggested reading list on the topics covered.

For more information, contact Ask a Librarian.