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BACKGROUND: Racism has been linked with poor health in studies in the United States. Little is known about prospective associations between racial discrimination and health outcomes in the United Kingdom (UK). METHODS: Data were from 4883 ethnic minority (i.e. non-white) participants in the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Perceived discrimination in the last 12 months on the basis of ethnicity or nationality was reported in 2009/10. Psychological distress, mental functioning, life satisfaction, self-rated health, physical functioning and reports of limiting longstanding illness were assessed in 2009/10 and 2011/12. Linear and logistic regression analyses adjusted for age, sex, income, education and ethnicity. Prospective analyses also adjusted for baseline status on the outcome being evaluated. RESULTS: Racial discrimination was reported by 998 (20.4%) of the sample. Cross-sectionally, those who reported racial discrimination had a greater likelihood on average of limiting longstanding illness (odds ratio (OR) = 1.78, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.49; 2.13) and fair/poor self-rated health (OR = 1.50; 95% CI 1.24; 1.82) than those who did not report racial discrimination. Racial discrimination was associated with greater psychological distress (B = 1.11, 95% CI 0.88; 1.34), poorer mental functioning (B = - 3.61; 95% CI -4.29; - 2.93), poorer physical functioning (B = - 0.86; 95% CI -1.50; - 0.27), and lower life satisfaction (B = - 0.40, 95% CI -0.52; - 0.27). Prospectively, those who reported racial discrimination had a greater likelihood on average of limiting longstanding illness (OR = 1.31, 95% CI 1.01; 1.69) and fair/poor self-rated health (OR = 1.30; 95% CI 1.00; 1.69), than those who did not report racial discrimination. Racial discrimination was associated increased psychological distress (B = 0.52, 95% CI 0.20; 0.85) and poorer mental functioning (B = - 1.77; 95% CI -2.70; - 0.83) over two-year follow-up, adjusting for baseline scores. CONCLUSIONS: UK adults belonging to ethnic minority groups who perceive racial discrimination experience poorer mental and physical health than those who do not. These results highlight the need for effective interventions to combat racial discrimination in order to reduce inequalities in health.

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/s12889-020-09792-1

Type

Journal article

Journal

BMC Public Health

Publication Date

18/11/2020

Volume

20

Keywords

Discrimination, Mental health, Physical health, Prejudice, Racism