Racial/ethnic discrimination and health: findings from community studies

Am J Public Health. 2003 Feb;93(2):200-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.2.200.


The authors review the available empirical evidence from population-based studies of the association between perceptions of racial/ethnic discrimination and health. This research indicates that discrimination is associated with multiple indicators of poorer physical and, especially, mental health status. However, the extant research does not adequately address whether and how exposure to discrimination leads to increased risk of disease. Gaps in the literature include limitations linked to measurement of discrimination, research designs, and inattention to the way in which the association between discrimination and health unfolds over the life course. Research on stress points to important directions for the future assessment of discrimination and the testing of the underlying processes and mechanisms by which discrimination can lead to changes in health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity* / genetics
  • Ethnicity* / psychology
  • Ethnicity* / statistics & numerical data
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Minority Groups* / psychology
  • Minority Groups* / statistics & numerical data
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prejudice*
  • Public Health
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology