The measurement of racism in health inequities research

Marina Mautner Wizentier, Briana Joy K. Stephenson, Melody S. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


There is limited literature on the measures and metrics used to examine racism in the health inequities literature. Health inequities research is continuously evolving, with the number of publications increasing over time. However, there is limited knowledge on the best measures and methods to examine the impact of different levels of racism (institutionalized, personally mediated, and internalized) on health inequities. Advanced statistical methods have the potential to be used in new ways to examine the relationship between racism and health inequities. In this review, we conduct a descriptive examination of the measurement of racism in the health inequities epidemiologic literature. We examine the study design, methods used for analysis, types of measures used (e.g., composite, absolute, relative), number of measures used, phase of research (detect, understand, solutions), viewpoint (oppressor, oppressed), and components of structural racism measures (historical context, geographical context, multifaceted nature). We discuss methods (e.g., Peters–Belson, latent class analysis, difference in differences) that have demonstrated potential for future work. The articles reviewed were limited to the detect (25%) and understand (75%) phases, with no studies in the solutions phase. Although the majority (56%) of studies had cross-sectional designs, many authors pointed to the need for longitudinal and multilevel data for further exploration. We examined study design features as mutually exclusive elements. However, racism is a multifaceted system and the measurement of racism in many studies does not fit into a single category. As the literature grows, the significance of methodological and measurement triangulation to assess racism should be investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-43
Number of pages12
JournalEpidemiologic Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • discrimination
  • health inequities
  • measurement
  • racism
  • racism
  • structural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The measurement of racism in health inequities research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this