Monday, August 10, 2009

The negative health effects of perceived discrimination

Discrimination has undoubtedly been the cause of suffering for many throughout human history. There have been countless reviews investigating the effects of discrimination on health, but none that have quite looked at the quantitative nature of this relationship. Pascoe and Richman decided to undertake this task by examining the strength of the evidence for the effect of perceived discrimination on multiple health outcomes through a meta-analysis.

The researchers discovered that an increased level of perceived discrimination is associated with more negative mental and physical health. In addition, they found that perceived discrimination was associated with heightened psychological and physical stress responses as well as increased participation in unhealthy behaviors. These relationships remained even when important covariates such as demographics were analyzed. Moderating variables included social support and coping style.

So the next time you feel like you're being unfairly discriminated against be sure to have lots of family and friends to back you up, think logically through the problem, and take action!

Pascoe EA, & Smart Richman L (2009). Perceived discrimination and health: a meta-analytic review. Psychological bulletin, 135 (4), 531-54 PMID: 19586161

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