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Ethn Dis. 1999 Spring-Summer;9(2):151-65.

Racial/ethnic disparities in health: the interplay between discrimination and socioeconomic status.

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Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, Massachusetts 01730, USA.


In the past decade, racial/ethnic discrepancy in health status has drawn increased attention from academicians, policy makers and planners, service providers, and community advocates. While the field has witnessed a growth in research projects and intervention programs, the gap in health status among racial/ethnic groups persists, which suggests that future research should incorporate a focus on one neglected area, ie, the health implications of discrimination. Using the National Survey of Functional Health (N=1,659), a nationally representative sample of English-speaking persons 18 years of age and older living in non-institutional arrangements within the United States, we analyzed how self-perceived unfairness (discrimination due to racial identity or to low socioeconomic status [SES]) was linked to self-assessed health status. The study found that racial and class discrimination were rather pervasive in the United States. Experiences of discrimination tended to have a strong negative association with health and accounted for some racial/ethnic differences in health status. The study also revealed a complex relationship between experiences of discrimination and social class, suggesting that future research should focus on specifying the social distribution of discrimination and assessing its subsequent association with health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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