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J Aging Health. 2012 Sep;24(6):1018-43. doi: 10.1177/0898264312440322. Epub 2012 Mar 26.

Theory-guided selection of discrimination measures for racial/ ethnic health disparities research among older adults.

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  • 1University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, NC 27599-7440, USA.



Discrimination may contribute to health disparities among older adults. Existing measures of perceived discrimination have provided important insights but may have limitations when used in studies of older adults. This article illustrates the process of assessing the appropriateness of existing measures for theory-based research on perceived discrimination and health.


First, we describe three theoretical frameworks that are relevant to the study of perceived discrimination and health-stress-process models, life course models, and the Public Health Critical Race (PHCR) praxis. We then review four widely-used measures of discrimination, comparing their content and describing how well they address key aspects of each framework, and discussing potential areas of modification.


Using theory to guide measure selection can help improve understanding of how perceived discrimination may contribute to racial/ethnic health disparities among older adults.

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