Structural racism; racism; structural determinants of health; health outcomes


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Environmental Public Health



Objective: To summarize the ways in which researchers have quantified measures of structural racism for the purposes of empirical, quantitative investigation of its associations with physical and mental health outcomes.

Methods: Systematic review of literature published January 1, 2007-June 30, 2017. We searched PubMed and EMBASE databases for studies including at least one of the following search terms in the title or abstract: “structural racism”, “systemic racism”, “institutional racism”, “institutionalized racism”. Excluded studies were not original research, not US based, did not quantify an explicitly named indicator of structural racism, or were qualitative designs. Data from full text articles were abstracted and synthesized.

Results: Twenty articles met the final inclusion criteria. Articles included measures of structural racism within the following domains: residential neighborhood/housing, perceived racism in social institutions, immigration and border enforcement, political participation, socioeconomic status, criminal justice, and workplace environment.

Conclusions: A burgeoning body of work suggest ways to operationalize and measure structural racism in US society for the purposes of exploring its impacts on individual and population health inequities.