The intricacy of structural racism measurement: A pilot development of a latent-class multidimensional measure

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Abstract

Background: Structural racism is a complex system of inequities working in tandem to cause poor health for communities of color, especially for Black people. However, the multidimensional nature of structural racism is not captured by existing measures used by population health scholars to study health inequities. Multidimensional measures can be made using complex analytical techniques. Whether or not the multidimensional measure of structural racism provides more insight than the existing unidimensional measures is unknown. Methods: We derived measures of Black-White residential segregation, inequities in education, employment, income, and homeownership, evaluated for 2,338 Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) in the United States (US), and consolidated them into a multidimensional measure of structural racism using a latent class model. We compared the median COVID-19 vaccination rates observed across 54 New York City (NYC) PUMAs by levels (high/low) of structural racism and the multidimensional class using the Kruskal-Wallis test. This study was conducted in March 2021. Findings: Our latent class model identified three structural racism classes in the US, all of which can be found in NYC. We observed intricate interactions between the five dimensions of structural racism of interest that cannot be simply classified as “high” (i.e., high on all dimensions of structural racism), “medium,” or “low.” Compared to Class A PUMAs with the median rate of two-dose completion of 6·9%, significantly lower rates were observed for Class B PUMAs (5·5%, p = 0·04) and Class C PUMAs (5·2%, p = 0·01). When the vaccination rates were evaluated based on each dimension of structural racism, significant differences were observed between PUMAs with high and low Black-White income inequity only (7·2% vs. 5·3%, p = 0·001). Interpretation: Our analysis suggests that measuring structural racism as a multidimensional determinant of health provides additional insight into the mechanisms underlying population health inequity vis-à-vis using multiple unidimensional measures without capturing their joint effects. Funding: This project is funded by the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, University of Minnesota. Additional support is provided by the Minnesota Population Center, which is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant P2C HD041023).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101092
JournalEClinicalMedicine
Volume40
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DCV reports a grant from the National Institutes of Health. All other authors report no declarations

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, University of Minnesota . Additional support was provided by the Minnesota Population Center, which is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant P2C HD041023 ). All funders have no involvement in the design, data analysis, interpretation of the study results, drafting the manuscript, or the decision to submit this paper for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Health equity
  • Structural racism
  • latent class analysis
  • measurement

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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