Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 20–47

Discrimination and racial disparities in health: evidence and needed research


DOI: 10.1007/s10865-008-9185-0

Cite this article as:
Williams, D.R. & Mohammed, S.A. J Behav Med (2009) 32: 20. doi:10.1007/s10865-008-9185-0


This paper provides a review and critique of empirical research on perceived discrimination and health. The patterns of racial disparities in health suggest that there are multiple ways by which racism can affect health. Perceived discrimination is one such pathway and the paper reviews the published research on discrimination and health that appeared in PubMed between 2005 and 2007. This recent research continues to document an inverse association between discrimination and health. This pattern is now evident in a wider range of contexts and for a broader array of outcomes. Advancing our understanding of the relationship between perceived discrimination and health will require more attention to situating discrimination within the context of other health-relevant aspects of racism, measuring it comprehensively and accurately, assessing its stressful dimensions, and identifying the mechanisms that link discrimination to health.


RacismDiscriminationStressHealth disparitiesRaceEthnicity

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Society, Human Development and HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Departments of African and African American Studies and SociologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Nursing ProgramUniversity of Washington BothellBothellUSA