Communities with more racial bias have worse health outcomes


According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, birth outcomes, cardiovascular outcomes, mental health and self-rated health were all lower in communities where levels of racism and racial prejudice were highest. higher.

The study was a systematic review of the literature that sought to identify any correlation between regional racial bias and health. The investigators stratified the results by race and ethnicity, noting any significant findings that warranted future study.

Investigators used a variety of sources to measure racial bias at the community level, analyzing data from internet searches, social media and large-scale surveys. Using 4 interdisciplinary databases, they systematically reviewed 14,632 articles, 14 of which met the inclusion criteria and were used in the study. Data extraction followed PRISMA guidelines.

“The majority of research on race discrimination and health to date has focused on individual-level experiences,” said Amani M. Allen, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study. “The body of emerging work examined in this review is an important step in moving beyond the level of the individual to understand the context of place and its impact on the health of people living there.”

The 14 articles contained data aggregated from big data sources such as Google and Twitter. Some of the articles analyzed how often users included a racial slur in their Google search engines, while others monitored tweets that expressed prejudice against people of color.

Eli Michaels, MPH, lead author of the study, said, “Racism is increasingly recognized as a fundamental driver of health inequities. Leveraging big data to capture regional racial bias is an innovative approach to measuring the overall racial climate in which people live, work, play, and pray. The studies included in this review found that living in an area with high racial bias can harm health and worsen racial inequalities in health.

After establishing racial bias markers from the 14 articles, Michaels and his team coded the data by geographic area. They measured area-level racial bias health outcomes among residents of those areas.

All studies have found a correlation between racial bias at the regional level and worsening health outcomes among racial and ethnic minority populations. Specifically, negative health outcomes were all-cause (n=4) and cause-specific (n=4) mortality, birth outcomes (n=4), cardiovascular outcomes (n=2), health mental health (n = 1), and self-rated health status (n = 1). A few of the studies even found that areas with more racial bias also had a negative impact on the health of white residents.

The investigators concluded that people living in communities with more prejudice may experience more stressful and harmful interactions. Racial bias can also damage social capital, break mutual trust in communities, and lead to less support for reforms that can improve a region’s health and well-being.

“As we see in this review, living in an environment where the general climate is detrimental to people of color is not just bad for racially marginalized groups, but for everyone. Regional racial bias is a social determinant of population health,” Allen said.


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