Police Violence and Public Health

Jordan E. Devylder, Deidre M. Anglin, Lisa Bowleg, Lisa Fedina, Bruce G. Link

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite their enormous potential impact on population health and health inequities, police violence and use of excessive force have only recently been addressed from a public health perspective. Moving to change this state of affairs, this article considers police violence in the USA within a social determinants and health disparities framework, highlighting recent literature linking this exposure to mental health symptoms, physical health conditions, and premature mortality. The review demonstrates that police violence is common in the USA; is disproportionately directed toward Black, Latinx, and other marginalized communities; and exerts a significant and adverse effect on a broad range of health outcomes. The state-sponsored nature of police violence, its embedding within a historical and contemporary context of structural racism, and the unique circumstances of the exposure itself make it an especially salient and impactful form of violence exposure, both overlapping with and distinct from other forms of violence. We conclude by noting potential solutions that clinical psychology and allied fields may offer toalleviate the impact of police violence, while simultaneously recognizing that a true solution to this issue requires a drastic reformation or replacement of the criminal justice system, as well as addressing the broader context of structural and systemic racism in the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-552
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Clinical Psychology
StatePublished - 2022


  • disparities
  • excessive force
  • health inequities
  • mental health
  • mortality
  • physical health
  • police brutality
  • population health
  • structural racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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