Perceived racism and mental health among Black American adults: a meta-analytic review

J Couns Psychol. 2012 Jan;59(1):1-9. doi: 10.1037/a0026208. Epub 2011 Nov 7.


The literature indicates that perceived racism tends to be associated with adverse psychological and physiological outcomes; however, findings in this area are not yet conclusive. In this meta-analysis, we systematically reviewed 66 studies (total sample size of 18,140 across studies), published between January 1996 and April 2011, on the associations between racism and mental health among Black Americans. Using a random-effects model, we found a positive association between perceived racism and psychological distress (r = .20). We found a moderation effect for psychological outcomes, with anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric symptoms having a significantly stronger association than quality of life indicators. We did not detect moderation effects for type of racism scale, measurement precision, sample type, or type of publication. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / ethnology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Black People / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / ethnology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Prejudice*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Social Perception*