Why this is important: Discrimination, whether based on one’s race, religion, gender or other social characteristic, negatively impacts health and well-being.1,2 Experiences of discrimination have been consistently linked to poor mental health outcomes (e.g., depression), risky health behaviors (e.g., smoking and unsafe sex) and reduced access to health services and treatment.2 Increases in discrimination have also been linked to poor physical health outcomes, including high blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI).3

Assessing perceived discrimination provides important insights into community members’ lived experiences. A better understanding of these experiences may inform modifications to existing programs and services as well as the development of new approaches to improving well-being and achieving greater health equity within a population.

Definition: Discrimination is defined as the inappropriate, unjust treatment—actions and behaviors, whether direct or subtle, or performed by individuals, organizations or public institutions—of people due to their real or perceived membership to a social group.2,4 Such behaviors are often determined by prejudice or irrational negative beliefs, emotions and attitudes towards groups of individuals.4

The QoL Survey began assessing residents’ experiences with discrimination in 2017. Respondents were asked about how often they felt “uncomfortable or out of place” in their neighborhood or community due to various factors related to race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation and country of origin, and to describe their experiences, if applicable. Other questions included their level of stress due to discrimination in the last 12 months, and to what extent discriminatory acts were a problem in their neighborhood or community in the last 12 months.

Data Source: 1 Krieger, N. Discrimination and health. In Social Epidemiology, ed. Berkman, L, Kawachi, I. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2000: 36-75. 2 Krieger N. Discrimination and health inequities. International Journal of Health Services. 2014;44(4):643-710. 3 Johnston DW, Lordan G. Discrimination makes me sick! An examination of the discrimination–health relationship. Journal of Health Economics. 2012;31(1):99-111. 4 Fiske, ST, Gilbert, DT, Gardner, L (Eds.). Handbook of Social Psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons; 2010.