Discrimination in the United States: Experiences of black Americans

Sara N. Bleich, Mary G. Findling, Logan S. Casey, Robert J. Blendon, John M. Benson, Gillian K. SteelFisher, Justin M. Sayde, Carolyn Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: To examine experiences of racial discrimination among black adults in the United States, which broadly contribute to their poor health outcomes. Data Source and Study Design: Data come from a nationally representative, probability-based telephone survey including 802 non-Hispanic black and a comparison group of 902 non-Hispanic white US adults, conducted January–April 2017. Methods: We calculated the percent of blacks reporting discrimination in several domains, including health care. We used logistic regression to compare the black-white difference in odds of discrimination, and among blacks only to examine variation by socioeconomic status, gender, and neighborhood racial composition. Principal Findings: About one-third of blacks (32 percent) reported experiencing discrimination in clinical encounters, while 22 percent avoided seeking health care for themselves or family members due to anticipated discrimination. A majority of black adults reported experiencing discrimination in employment (57 percent in obtaining equal pay/promotions; 56 percent in applying for jobs), police interactions (60 percent reported being stopped/unfairly treated by police), and hearing microaggressions (52 percent) and racial slurs (51 percent). In adjusted models, blacks had significantly higher odds than whites of reporting discrimination in every domain. Among blacks, having a college degree was associated with higher odds of experiencing overall institutional discrimination. Conclusions: The extent of reported discrimination across several areas of life suggests a broad pattern of discrimination against blacks in America, beyond isolated experiences. Black-white disparities exist on nearly all dimensions of experiences with public and private institutions, including health care and the police. Evidence of systemic discrimination suggests a need for more active institutional interventions to address racism in policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1399-1408
Number of pages10
JournalHealth services research
Volume54
Issue numberS2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • African Americans
  • black Americans
  • discrimination
  • racial disparities in health and health care
  • racism
  • social determinants of health
  • survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

Cite this

Bleich, S. N., Findling, M. G., Casey, L. S., Blendon, R. J., Benson, J. M., SteelFisher, G. K., Sayde, J. M., & Miller, C. (2019). Discrimination in the United States: Experiences of black Americans. Health services research, 54(S2), 1399-1408. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6773.13220