Association between racial discrimination and health-related quality of life and the impact of social relationships

Genevieve Bergeron, Nneka Lundy De La Cruz, L. Hannah Gould, Sze Yan Liu, Amber Levanon Seligson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: Interpersonal racial discrimination is associated with poor health. Social relationships may moderate the impact of discrimination and represent modifiable behaviors that can be targeted by public health interventions. We described citywide associations between self-reported racial discrimination and health-related quality of life among the overall New York City (NYC) adult residential population and by four main race/ethnicity groups and explored whether social relationships moderated health effects of discrimination. Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional survey data from 2335 adults weighted to be representative of the NYC population. We measured exposures to lifetime interpersonal racial discrimination in nine domains using a modified version of the Experiences of Discrimination scale. We performed unadjusted and adjusted regression analyses on four self-rated health-related quality of life outcomes including general health, physical health, mental health, and limitations from physical or mental health. Results: Overall, 47% [95% CI 44.5, 50.3] of respondents reported having experienced racial discrimination in at least one domain. In the overall population, significant associations with racial discrimination were noted in adjusted models for poor physical health, poor mental health, and limitations by poor physical and mental health. Among those exposed to racial discrimination, the risk of experiencing poor mental health was lower among those who had contact with family or friends outside their household at least once a week, compared with those who had less frequent social contact. Conclusion: This study provides evidence that social relationships may moderate the impact of racial discrimination on mental health and should be integrated into health promotion efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2793-2805
Number of pages13
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Health-related quality of life
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Racial discrimination
  • Racism
  • Social determinants of health
  • Social relationships


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