Perceived discrimination and health: a meta-analytic review

Psychol Bull. 2009 Jul;135(4):531-54. doi: 10.1037/a0016059.


Perceived discrimination has been studied with regard to its impact on several types of health effects. This meta-analysis provides a comprehensive account of the relationships between multiple forms of perceived discrimination and both mental and physical health outcomes. In addition, this meta-analysis examines potential mechanisms by which perceiving discrimination may affect health, including through psychological and physiological stress responses and health behaviors. Analysis of 134 samples suggests that when weighting each study's contribution by sample size, perceived discrimination has a significant negative effect on both mental and physical health. Perceived discrimination also produces significantly heightened stress responses and is related to participation in unhealthy and nonparticipation in healthy behaviors. These findings suggest potential pathways linking perceived discrimination to negative health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Arousal
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Perception*