Race, race-based discrimination, and health outcomes among African Americans

Annu Rev Psychol. 2007;58:201-25. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.57.102904.190212.


Persistent and vexing health disadvantages accrue to African Americans despite decades of work to erase the effects of race discrimination in this country. Participating in these efforts, psychologists and other social scientists have hypothesized that African Americans' continuing experiences with racism and discrimination may lie at the root of the many well-documented race-based physical health disparities that affect this population. With newly emerging methodologies in both measurement of contextual factors and functional neuroscience, an opportunity now exists to cleave together a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which discrimination has harmful effects on health. In this article, we review emerging work that locates the cause of race-based health disparities in the external effects of the contextual social space on the internal world of brain functioning and physiologic response. These approaches reflect the growing interdisciplinary nature of psychology in general, and the field of race relations in particular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Allostasis / physiology
  • Amygdala / physiopathology
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Chronic Disease / ethnology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / ethnology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychosocial Deprivation
  • Risk Factors