Perceived Discrimination and Increased Odds of Unmet Medical Needs Among US Children

Sze Yan Liu, Roman Pabayo, Peter Muennig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Our study examines the association between perceived discrimination due to race and unmet medical needs among a nationally representative sample of children in the United States. We used data from the 2016-2017 National Survey of Children's Health, a population-based cross-sectional survey of randomly selected parents or guardians in the United States. We compared results from the coarsened exact matching (CEM) method and survey-weighted logistic regression to assess the robustness of the results. Using self-reported measures from caregivers, we find that ∼2.7% of US children have experienced racial discrimination with prevalence varying significantly by race. While <1% of non-Hispanic whites have experienced some measure of racism, this increases to 8.8% among non-Hispanic blacks. Perceived discrimination was associated with significantly greater odds of unmet medical needs in the adjusted, survey-weighted multivariate-adjusted model (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 2.4 and 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2, 4.9) as well as in the CEM-model estimate (OR = 2.8 and 95% CI = 1.8, 4.0). Children who have experienced perceived discrimination had higher odds of unmet medical needs. Awareness of discrimination among children may help inform future intervention development that addresses unmet medical needs during childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-370
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • children
  • perceived discrimination
  • unmet medical need


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