DOI: 10.1111/jssr.12871 ISSN: 0021-8294

The Association between Religious Discrimination and Health: Disaggregating by Types of Discrimination Experiences, Religious Tradition, and Forms of Health

Christopher P. Scheitle, Jacqui Frost, Elaine Howard Ecklund
  • Religious studies


Research finds that experiences of religious discrimination are often associated with poorer health outcomes. However, there remain important questions to consider gaps, including whether religious discrimination has similar health impacts on religious minority groups and religious majority groups, whether religious discrimination is equally harmful for both mental and physical health, and whether specific types of discrimination have different impacts on health. Using survey data from a probability sample of U.S. adults and measures representing a variety of discrimination experience types, our analyses suggest that religious discrimination is indeed harmful for health, but that experiences of religious discrimination do not universally affect mental and physical health in the same ways. Rather than significant differences in the health impacts of religious discrimination across different religious groups, we find more variation in the health impacts of different types of experiences with discrimination. Further, we find that mental health is negatively impacted by a wider range of experiences with religious discrimination than physical health. These findings are in line with social psychological research on the differential health impacts of discrimination, and they highlight the importance of context in studies of the health effects of religious discrimination.

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