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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota: A Universal Way of Measuring Structural Racism is Needed

In a recent study in the Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, University of Minnesota and Tulane University researchers reviewed the ways researchers over a 10-year span (January 1, 2007-June 30, 2017) quantified measures of structural racism to investigate its association with physical and mental health outcomes.

Using PubMed and EMBASE databases, they looked for studies including at least one of the following search terms in the title or abstract: “structural racism”, “systemic racism”, “institutional racism”, “institutionalized racism”.

After applying exclusion criteria, including not U.S. based or not original investigations, researchers found 20 articles that qualified for their study. The articles evaluated the impact of structural racism on health by matching observed health disparities to differences in exposure by race in the following areas, in order of frequency:

“A universal way of measuring structural racism does not exist” said coauthor University of Minnesota School of Public Health assistant professor Dr. Rachel Hardeman. “We urgently need valid, replicable and theoretically sound measures of structural racism to expose evidence of its harm to population health and to identify pathways for intervention.”

[Photo: Dr. Rachel Hardeman]

The research team recommended that public health and clinical researchers should expand ways to quantify structural racism for the study of its association with, and as a driver of, physical and mental health inequities. This will also integrate anti-racist discourse across the public health agenda.

The Frost Foundation and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded this study.