Dimensions of racial identity and perceived discrimination in health care

Academic Article


  • Perceived discrimination is an important risk factor for minority health. Drawing from the scholarship on multidimensionality of race, this study examines the relationships between perceived discrimination in health care and two dimensions of racial identity: self-identified race/ethnicity and perceived attributed race/ ethnicity (respondents' perceptions of how they are racially classified by others). Methods: We used Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data collected in 2004- 2013 and we specifically examined the data on perceived racial discrimination in health care during the past 12 months, perceived attributed race/ethnicity, and self-identified race/ethnicity. Results: In models adjusting for sociodemographic and other factors, both dimensions of racial/ethnic identity contributed independently to perceived discrimination in health care. After controlling for selfidentified race/ethnicity, respondents who reported being classified as Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American had higher likelihood of perceived discrimination than respondents who reported being classified as White. Similarly, after taking perceived attributed race/ethnicity into account, selfidentified Blacks, Native Americans, and multiracial respondents were more likely to report perceived discrimination than counterparts who self-identified as White. The model using only perceived attributed race/ ethnicity to predict perceived discrimination showed a superior fit with the data than the model using only self-identified race/ ethnicity. Conclusion: Perceived attributed race/ ethnicity captures an aspect of racial/ethnic identity that is correlated, but not interchangeable, with self-identified race/ethnicity and contributes uniquely to perceived discrimination in health care. Applying the concept of multidimensionality of race/ ethnicity to health disparities research may reveal understudied mechanisms linking race/ethnicity to health risks. Ethn Dis. 2016;26(4):501-512;.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Stepanikova I; Oates GR
  • Start Page

  • 501
  • End Page

  • 512
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 4