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Perceived Discrimination Associated With Asthma and Related Outcomes in Minority Youth

Q&A With Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, PhD

1. What effects do you hope the findings of this study will have on asthma outcomes for minority populations? And what societal changes can be made to better those outcomes?

The study found that African American children who reported experiencing discrimination had almost twice the probability of having asthma than their peers who did not experience/report discrimination. Among African American children with asthma, discrimination was also associated with a greater probability of having poorly controlled asthma. For Mexican American children, discrimination and socioeconomic status (SES) act together with discrimination having an effect on asthma only among low-SES children.

These findings corroborated the existent evidence on the role of racial/ethnic discrimination as a predictor of negative health outcomes in children and adults. Given the political climate we are in right now, these findings are very significant especially for minority children. Children are being exposed directly or indirectly to different sources of psychosocial stress-discrimination, bullying, and fear; while our focus was asthma, this stress may play a role on other diseases, behaviors, and learning opportunities. The latter has lifetime implications for children’s lives and our future.

2. How would you overcome limitations of this study to move forward?

Longitudinal studies are needed to tease out the effect of discrimination on asthma and its control. Specifically, studies following children over time to assess their everyday interaction with their peers and society are needed.

3. What are some of the factors that could enhance this study further?

Two issues could advance this study’s contribution further: First, the examination of discrimination specific to sex and sexual orientation, religion, language, immigration status, and socioeconomic position in addition to racial/ethnic discrimination; and second, the inclusion of experience of discrimination directed at family members (parents, caregivers, and/or siblings) of study’s participants.

Read Perceived Discrimination Associated With Asthma and Related Outcomes in Minority Youth.


Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, PhD, is a Professor at the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. Her research interest is on the social determinants of health, specifically race/ethnicity, socioeconomic position, and neighborhood effects as they affect health outcomes.