Racism and Health: Evidence and Needed Research

Annu Rev Public Health. 2019 Apr 1:40:105-125. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040218-043750. Epub 2019 Feb 2.


In recent decades, there has been remarkable growth in scientific research examining the multiple ways in which racism can adversely affect health. This interest has been driven in part by the striking persistence of racial/ethnic inequities in health and the empirical evidence that indicates that socioeconomic factors alone do not account for racial/ethnic inequities in health. Racism is considered a fundamental cause of adverse health outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities and racial/ethnic inequities in health. This article provides an overview of the evidence linking the primary domains of racism-structural racism, cultural racism, and individual-level discrimination-to mental and physical health outcomes. For each mechanism, we describe key findings and identify priorities for future research. We also discuss evidence for interventions to reduce racism and describe research needed to advance knowledge in this area.

Keywords: ethnicity; race; racial discrimination; racial inequities; racism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Racism / psychology*
  • Racism / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research Design*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States