Despite growing interest in understanding how social factors drive poor health outcomes, many academics, policy makers, scientists, elected officials, journalists, and others responsible for defining and responding to the public discourse remain reluctant to identify racism as a root cause of racial health inequities. In this conceptual report, the third in a Series on equity and equality in health in the USA, we use a contemporary and historical perspective to discuss research and interventions that grapple with the implications of what is known as structural racism on population health and health inequities. Structural racism refers to the totality of ways in which societies foster racial discrimination through mutually reinforcing systems of housing, education, employment, earnings, benefits, credit, media, health care, and criminal justice. These patterns and practices in turn reinforce discriminatory beliefs, values, and distribution of resources. We argue that a focus on structural racism offers a concrete, feasible, and promising approach towards advancing health equity and improving population health.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.