A Systematic Review of the Extent and Measurement of Healthcare Provider Racism
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Although considered a key driver of racial disparities in healthcare, relatively little is known about the extent of interpersonal racism perpetrated by healthcare providers, nor is there a good understanding of how best to measure such racism.
This paper reviews worldwide evidence (from 1995 onwards) for racism among healthcare providers; as well as comparing existing measurement approaches to emerging best practice, it focuses on the assessment of interpersonal racism, rather than internalized or systemic/institutional racism.
The following databases and electronic journal collections were searched for articles published between 1995 and 2012: Medline, CINAHL, PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts. Included studies were published empirical studies of any design measuring and/or reporting on healthcare provider racism in the English language. Data on study design and objectives; method of measurement, constructs measured, type of tool; study population and healthcare setting; country and language of study; and study outcomes were extracted from each study.
The 37 studies included in this review were almost solely conducted in the U.S. and with physicians. Statistically significant evidence of racist beliefs, emotions or practices among healthcare providers in relation to minority groups was evident in 26 of these studies. Although a number of measurement approaches were utilized, a limited range of constructs was assessed.
Despite burgeoning interest in racism as a contributor to racial disparities in healthcare, we still know little about the extent of healthcare provider racism or how best to measure it. Studies using more sophisticated approaches to assess healthcare provider racism are required to inform interventions aimed at reducing racial disparities in health.
KEY WORDShealthcare racism bias measurement, systematic review
Ms Kaitlin Lauridsen assisted in preparing this paper.
Naomi Priest is supported by an NHMRC postdoctoral training fellowship (#628897) and by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth).
Prior Conference Presentations
a) Science of Discrimination and Health Meeting, National Institute of Health, Washington DC, USA, 2011; b) Science of Eliminating Health Disparities Summit, Maryland, USA, 2012.
Conflict of Interests
The authors declare that they do not have any conflicts of interest.
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