Discrimination and health in an English study
Smith, George Davey
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In this study we examine the relationship between education, racial discrimination and health among white (n = 227), African Caribbean (n = 213) and Indian and Pakistani (n = 233) adults aged between 18 and 59 years living in Leeds, England, as measured in a stratified population survey. Measures of discrimination included any physical attack, verbal abuse and a combined variable, any discrimination due to race, colour, ethnicity or sex. Analyses were conducted examining the relationship between education and discrimination, discrimination and health, and discrimination and health controlling for education. People educated above secondary level were more likely than people educated to secondary level or below to report being physically attacked, verbally abused and exposed to discrimination. People from minority ethnic groups (African Caribbean and Indian Pakistani) were more likely to be verbally abused and exposed to discrimination than the white group. Ethnicity and education interacted for African Caribbeans, such that respondents with post-school qualifications were more likely to report verbal abuse or any discrimination. There was no association between having been exposed to any kind of discrimination and having fair or poor health. Physical attack and any discrimination were associated with anxiety, worry and depression. The results remained unchanged when ethnicity and education were included in the models. Education and ethnicity were associated with differences in exposure to discrimination. In turn, exposure to discrimination was associated with higher levels of anxiety, worry or depression although there was no association between discrimination and health. The results support the contention that racial discrimination may play an important role in modifying the relationship between ethnicity, socioeconomic position and health. The counter-intuitive relationship between education and levels of reported discrimination in non-minority ethnic groups highlights the value of explicitly modeling discrimination to gain a better understanding of the social determinants of health.