Health Equity, Racial Equity

Survey on Racism, Discrimination and Health: Experiences and Impacts Across Racial and Ethnic Groups


There have been increased attention and calls to address racism in the U.S. in recent years, particularly in the wake of the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growth in recognition of the harms caused by systemic racism following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. As a result of historic and ongoing policies often rooted in discriminatory practices, there are stark differences in access to resources, opportunities, and power by race and ethnicity in the U.S., including access to safe housing and neighborhoods, economic and educational opportunities, and health care. Racism and discrimination at multiple levels, intentional or not, result in differences in experiences across many aspects of everyday life as well as in health care settings, which can negatively impact individuals’ health and well-being. Moreover, reflecting the intersectional nature of people’s identities, some individuals experience the combined impacts of racism and discrimination based on other factors such as gender or sexual orientation.

KFF’s 2023 Racism, Discrimination, and Health Survey is a major effort to document the extent and implications of racism and discrimination, particularly with respect to people’s interactions with the health care system. This large, nationally representative survey based on responses from over 6,000 adults provides new data on individuals’ experiences with racism and discrimination and the impacts of these experiences, both broadly and within racial and ethnic groups. It documents racial and ethnic differences in social and economic circumstances, interactions with the police, experiences with unfair treatment in daily life and while seeking health care, and the impacts of such experiences on health and well-being. Moreover, it examines how these inequities and experiences vary within racial and ethnic groups by factors such as income, gender, skin tone, age and LGBT identity where data allow. Future publications will delve deeper into results for specific populations and additional topics. This survey is part of a broader body of work that builds on KFF’s commitment to amplifying the voices of marginalized populations, including the recently released 2023 KFF/LA Times Survey of Immigrants, which provides insight into experiences of immigrants by different factors including immigration status. Having comprehensive and nuanced data to understand individuals’ experiences may inform and direct efforts to address disparities and advance equity.

This report is broadly divided into three sections. The first examines how social and economic circumstances and feelings of safety for Hispanic, Black, Asian, and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) people in the U.S. differ from White individuals in ways that reflect underlying structural inequities. The second section examines experiences with interpersonal racism and discrimination in daily activities and impacts of these experiences on well-being and stress. The third section delves deeper into experiences with racism and discrimination in health care settings.