Rejection Sensitivity; Vulnerable Populations; Marginalized Populations; Racial Minority; Sexual Minority; Gender Minority


Medicine and Health Sciences


As healthcare research continues to uncover health disparities in marginalized populations, it is critical to work toward understanding the origin of these disparities. Rejection sensitivity (RS) is a phenomenon that may illuminate reasons that disparities continue to exist. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on RS in marginalized populations, explore outcomes of RS as they relate to interpersonal relationships, valued life goals, and health, and identify gaps in the literature for proposing future research. Titles and abstracts were reviewed yielding 50 articles. Those 50 articles were further reduced to include select articles that focused on marginalized populations, contributed to the diversity of literature, or provided historical context for the development of the concept of rejection sensitivity after 1995. Articles were chosen to highlight the state of the science and subsequent gaps specifically associated with aspects important to healthcare. The final process of elimination resulted in 20 articles for review. Four themes emerged in the literature. The first two themes related to the experience of RS and marginalized groups, including race-based RS and gender and sexual minority-based RS. The second two themes related to the outcomes and consequences of RS, including effects on interpersonal relationships and effects on health. Many areas for future research are identified throughout this literature review that can contribute to future understanding of why health disparities occur in marginalized populations.