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Racism and health

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 19 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:880

Challenge to racism must continue

  1. Paramjit S Gill, clinical senior lecturer (,
  2. Raj S Bhopal, Bruce and John Usher professor of public health
  1. Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Birmingham Medical School, Birmingham B15 2TT
  2. Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh Medical School, Edinburgh EH8 9AG
  3. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London NW3 2PF
  4. Department of Health and Community Services, PO Box 721, Alice Springs, Northern Territory 0871, Australia

    EDITOR—As McKenzie highlights in his editorial, the emphasis to date has been on the role of racism in recruitment and career development.1 This must continue despite initiatives and legislation such as the recent Race Relations Amendment Act, as racism still exists in the NHS.2 We need to continue to challenge racism not only from our colleagues but also from our patients—zero tolerance is needed.3

    The importance of racism on health and health care will not diminish owing to increasing migration to the United Kingdom particularly from east European countries. The often hostile reception of the public, media, and some politicians reinforces the negative attitudes that prevail,4 and these may manifest through acute and chronic stress to the detriment of the individual. Research on evaluating the mechanism for racism and health outcomes is in early infancy; most studies are being conducted in the United States. We agree with McKenzie that further funding is needed in this area.

    The biological models alluded to seem plausible, but before investigating these further substantial research needs to …

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