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Perceptions of Race/Ethnicity-Based Discrimination: A Review of Measures and Evaluation of Their Usefulness for the Health Care Setting


Background. To assess discrimination in health care, reliable, valid, and comprehensive measures of racism/discrimination are needed.

Objective. To review literature on measures of perceived race/ethnicity-based discrimination and evaluate their characteristics and usefulness in assessing discrimination from health care providers.

Methods. Literature review of measures of perceived race/ethnicity-based discrimination (1966–2007), using MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Social Science Citation Index.

Results. We identified 34 measures of racism/discrimination; 16 specifically assessed dynamics in the health care setting. Few measures were theoretically based; most assessed only general dimensions of racism and focused specifically on the experiences of African American patients. Acceptable psychometric properties were documented for about half of the instruments.

Conclusions. Additional measures are needed for detailed assessments of perceived discrimination in the health care setting; they should be relevant for a wide variety of racial/ethnic groups, and they must assess how racism/discrimination affects health care decision making and treatments offered.