Perceptions of race/ethnicity-based discrimination: a review of measures and evaluation of their usefulness for the health care setting

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2008 Aug;19(3):697-730. doi: 10.1353/hpu.0.0041.


Background: To assess discrimination in health care, reliable, valid, and comprehensive measures of racism/discrimination are needed.

Objective: To review literature on measures of perceived race/ethnicity-based discrimination and evaluate their characteristics and usefulness in assessing discrimination from health care providers.

Methods: Literature review of measures of perceived race/ethnicity-based discrimination (1966-2007), using MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Social Science Citation Index.

Results: We identified 34 measures of racism/discrimination; 16 specifically assessed dynamics in the health care setting. Few measures were theoretically based; most assessed only general dimensions of racism and focused specifically on the experiences of African American patients. Acceptable psychometric properties were documented for about half of the instruments.

Conclusions: Additional measures are needed for detailed assessments of perceived discrimination in the health care setting; they should be relevant for a wide variety of racial/ethnic groups, and they must assess how racism/discrimination affects health care decision making and treatments offered.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Continental Population Groups / psychology*
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Prejudice*
  • United States