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How Do Diseases Affect Racial Discrimination Note

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In recent decades, sociologists have increasingly adopted an intersectionality framework to explore and explain the complex and interconnected nature of inequalities in the areas of race, class, and gender argue that this concept has frequently served as a theoretical buzzword, but has not yet achieved its potential as a methodological approach

In particular, while intersectionality has become a prominent feature of the sociological study of gender, it is seldom applied to other areas of research.

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Racial and ethnic differences in health, in which socially disadvantaged racial populations have worse health than whites, are large, pervasive across a broad range of outcomes, and persistent over time

They exist for the onset of disease, as well as the severity and course of illness. Socioeconomic status (SES)—whether measured by income, education, occupational status, or wealth—is a strong predictor of variations in health and has often been viewed as the driver of racial inequities in health. Research finds that although SES predicts variations in health status within each racial group, racial disparities persist at every level of SES.There is a large and growing body of empirical evidence indicating self‐reports of discrimination are race‐related aspects of social experience that can have negative effects on health. This paper provides an overview of research on self‐reported discrimination and health, as well as health care utilization. It begins by situating research on racial discrimination and health within the larger context of research on racism and health. Importantly, self‐reported experiences of discrimination are one mechanism by which racism affects health, and these exposures can be best understood and effectively addressed within the context of the role of racism in health. The paper then highlights key findings in this burgeoning literature.

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A lack of theoretical and analytic creativity prevented an early recognition of the role of discrimination and racism in the development of health inequalities (Karlsen & Nazroo, 2002). Fortunately there has been emerging interest in the potential consequences of racial discrimination on physical health. Link and Phelan developed the fundamental cause theory in 1996 to explain the formation or exacerbation of health inequalities as outcomes associated with socioeconomic status (SES)

Persons with lower SES experience higher morbidity and mortality than those with higher SES. As discussed in a previous column, race and ethnicity are often used as a proxy for SES with minority status as a stand-in for low SES to demonstrate the relationship to higher mortality rates. However, it is important to note that racial minorities are more likely to have higher mortality rates than their majority counterparts not because of race or ethnicity, per se, but because racial/ethnic minorities experience low SES (Flaskerud & DeLilly, 2012). Why would this be so? According to Jonathan Mann (1998), discrimination against racial/ethnic minorities is at the root of their low social and economic status. Furthermore, he said that discrimination, violation of human rights, and lack of resources are primary pathogenic forces in creating health disparities (Mann, 1998).

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In the long run, to fight racism and discrimination, we all need to recognize, name, and understand these attitudes and actions. We need to be open to identifying and controlling our own implicit biases

We need to be able to manage overt bigotry safely, learn from it, and educate others. These themes need to be a part of medical education, as well as institutional policy. We need to practice and model tolerance, respect, open-mindedness, and peace for each other.

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Duke Medicine News & Communication “John Henryism” key to understanding coping, health; Conference of the American Psychosomatic Society; Denver, CO. 2006, March 4

Flaskerud JH, DeLilly CR. Social determinants of health status. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 2012;33(7):494–497.

Jones CP. Levels of racism: A theoretic framework and a gardener’s tale. American Journal of Public Health. 2000;90(8):1212–1215.

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