Improving The Measurement Of Structural Racism To Achieve Antiracist Health Policy.

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Antiracist health policy research requires methodological innovation that creates equity-centered and antiracist solutions to health inequities by centering the complexities and insidiousness of structural racism. The development of effective health policy and health equity interventions requires sound empirical characterization of the nature of structural racism and its impact on public health. However, there is a disconnect between the conceptualization and measurement of structural racism in the public health literature. Given that structural racism is a system of interconnected institutions that operates with a set of racialized rules that maintain White supremacy, how can anyone accurately measure its insidiousness? This article highlights methodological approaches that will move the field forward in its ability to validly measure structural racism for the purposes of achieving health equity. We identify three key areas that require scholarly attention to advance antiracist health policy research: historical context, geographical context, and theory-based novel quantitative and qualitative methods that capture the multifaceted and systemic properties of structural racism as well as other systems of oppression.





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Hardeman, Rachel R, Patricia A Homan, Tongtan Chantarat, Brigette A Davis and Tyson H Brown (2022). Improving The Measurement Of Structural Racism To Achieve Antiracist Health Policy. Health affairs (Project Hope), 41(2). pp. 179–186. 10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01489 Retrieved from

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Tyson Brown

WLF Associate Professor of Sociology

Tyson H. Brown is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Medicine at Duke University, where he holds the W.L.F. endowed chair. He is a medical sociologist, race scholar, and demographer who uses novel theoretical and empirical approaches to examine the causes and consequences of racial inequality.

Dr. Brown’s research has resulted in highly-cited conceptual, empirical and agenda-setting articles in leading journals in the fields of sociology, demography, health policy, gerontology and population health (CV). His research contributions have been recognized with awards from the American Sociological Association and Duke University, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with scholars across the country and with the National Academies. In addition, he was a resident fellow at Oxford University and the inaugural Duke Presidential Fellow. He has also been awarded funding for his training and research from the Robert Wood Johnson and Ford Foundations as well as the National Institutes of Health.

Professor Brown’s current program of research focuses on the scientific study of structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequality. By developing theoretically-informed, innovative and rigorous methods for quantifying structural racism—across economic, educational, political, housing, and criminal-legal domains—and its effects on population health, his research provides empirical evidence on why racialized health inequities exist. Moreover, by mapping the geography of structural racism, his work identifies where racially discriminatory contexts are particularly severe and pernicious.

Brown is actively engaged in service at the university and national level. He has served in leadership position within professional organizations, including on the Board of Directors of the Population Association of America as well as on the editorial boards of top journals. Brown also founded and co-directs Duke's Writing, Research and Productivity (WRAP) Group, which aims to promote excellence in scholarship and support Black faculty by creating protected writing time and a space that enhances faculty inclusion. In addition, professor Brown enjoys serving as a mentor to Duke students and postdocs, as well as to early-career scientists, through programs funded by Russell Sage and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations to build the pipeline of future scholars.

Representative Publications:

Brown, Tyson H. and Patricia Homan. 2024. “Structural Racism and Health Stratification: Connecting Theory to Measurement.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior

Brown, Tyson H., Taylor W. Hargrove, Patricia A. Homan and Daniel E. Adkins. 2023. “Racialized Health Inequities: Quantifying Socioeconomic and Stress Pathways Using Moderated Mediation.” Demography, 60(3): 675-705.

Brown, Tyson H. and Patricia Homan. 2023. “The Future of Social Determinants of Health: Looking Upstream to Structural Drivers.” Milbank Quarterly, 101(S1): 36-60.

Brown, Tyson H., Christina Kamis and Patricia Homan. 2022. “Empirical Evidence on Structural Racism as a Driver of Racial Inequalities in COVID-19 Mortality.” Frontiers in Public Health. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.1007053

Brown, Tyson H. and Patricia A. Homan. 2022. “Frontiers in Measuring Structural Racism and its Health Effects.” Health Services Review, 57(3): 443-447.

Homan, Patricia A. and Tyson H. Brown. 2022. “Sick and Tired of Being Excluded: Structural Racism in Disenfranchisement as a Threat to Population Health.” Health Affairs, 41(2): 219-227.

Hardeman, Rachel, Patricia Homan, Tongtan Chantarat, Brigette Davis and Tyson Brown. 2022. “We Can’t Change What We Don’t Measure: Improving Measurement of Structural Racism for Antiracist Health Policy Research.” Health Affairs, 41(2): 179-186.

Brown, Tyson H. 2018. “Racial Stratification, Immigration, and Health Inequality: A Life Course-Intersectional Approach.” Social Forces, 96(4):1507-1540.

Brown, Tyson H., Liana J. Richardson, Taylor W. Hargrove and Courtney S. Thomas. 2016. “Using Multiple-Hierarchy Stratification Approaches to Understand Health Inequalities: The Intersecting Consequences of Race, Gender, SES and Age.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 57(2):200-222.

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