Richard Saitz, professor and chair of community health sciences, joined the editorial staff of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on January 1 as an associate editor.
A researcher and physician with faculty appointments at the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine, Saitz brings expertise in public health, internal medicine, and addiction medicine to the journal.
Saitz also serves as senior editor of Journal of Addiction Medicine, co-editor of the addiction textbook The American Society of Addiction Medicine Principles of Addiction Medicine, and section editor of the medicine textbook UpToDate, as well as lending editorial support to a handful of other publications. (He is stepping down from editing the BMJ journal Evidence-Based Medicine to focus on his other editorial responsibilities.)
For Saitz, editing is meaningful because of the impact it has on the populations he works with. “The way that we talk about health issues is related to the kinds of policies and practices that get put in place in terms of public health, and also to the clinical care that people receive,” he says. Substance use and addiction are often seen as moral failings rather than as health conditions, he says, and language reinforcing that idea—“abuser,” “addict”—can negatively affect care and policy at every level.
“The language that we use makes a difference,” he says.