Public Health, Racism, and the Lasting Impact of Hospital Segregation

In recent years, a growing number of calls have been made to explicitly name and treat racism as a determinant of health.1 Mounting evidence supports the notion that racism affects health through complex psychosocial, biobehavioral, and structural pathways.2,3 Health disparities are increasingly recognized as byproducts of racism.4 Acknowledging historical injustices—in particular, how racism operates at the individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels to affect health—and appreciating the historical roots of contemporary disparities is a necessary (although not sufficient) step toward achieving health equity. As part of ongoing efforts to address pervasive racial disparities in health, it is essential that public health researchers, practitioners, and others bear in mind the civil rights story of the health care system.

Deena Hayes-Greene