Racism and Health

A collection of content on the role racism plays in health and health care.

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Studies suggest that racism, spanning systems from medical care to the criminal justice system, adversely affects health in multiple ways. In particular, some minority groups are at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, low birth weight or premature birth and other serious conditions.

How do racism and discrimination affect health?

All stress takes a toll on health, but researchers have found that discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities can negatively affect health over lifetimes and across generations.

Some of this is economic: Blacks, American Indians, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders and some Asian groups have been disadvantaged throughout U.S. history, by way of legal exclusion from employment, educational opportunities and property ownership. But findings from studies in the United States and other countries have found that perceived racial/ethnic bias—and the resulting toxic stress—makes an additional contribution to racial or ethnic disparities in health.

To reach a Culture of Health, we must lift the barriers of racism to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

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