Racism and health
Kwame McKenzie says racism may be aetiologically important in the development of an illness
- By: Kwame McKenzie
Discussion of racial discrimination in medicine has concerned mainly recruitment and career development.1 This has overshadowed a growing literature showing an association between racism and morbidity and mortality.7 Racism may be important in causing the development of illness.
Racism stems from the belief that people should be treated differently because of a few phenotypic features. Racism can manifest itself as individual or group acts and attitudes or institutionalised processes that lead to disparities. Racism is common: in one national survey in the United Kingdom, 25-40% of participants said they would discriminate against ethnic minorities; an estimated 282?000 UK crimes were racially motivated in 1999; and a third of people from ethnic minorities constrain their lives through fear of racism.89 Disparities between ethnic minority and majority groups in housing, education, arrests, and court sentencing are believed to be due to racism, not simply to economic forces.89
Cross sectional studies in the