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Du Bois Rev. 2011 Apr 15;8(1):143-157.

Multiple Pathways Linking Racism to Health Outcomes.

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1
Department of Psychology, Howard University.

Abstract

This commentary discusses advances in the conceptual understanding of racism and selected research findings in the social neurosciences. The traditional stress and coping model holds that racism constitutes a source of aversive experiences that, when perceived by the individual, eventually lead to poor health outcomes. Current evidence points to additional psychophysiological pathways linking facets of racist environments with physiological reactions that contribute to disease. The alternative pathways emphasize prenatal experiences, subcortical emotional neural circuits, conscious and preconscious emotion regulation, perseverative cognitions, and negative affective states stemming from racist cognitive schemata. Recognition of these pathways challenges change agents to use an array of cognitive and self-controlling interventions in mitigating racism's impact. Additionally, it charges policy makers to develop strategies that eliminate deep-seated structural aspects of racism in society.

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