ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Race Relations in the Healthcare System

Updated on September 10, 2020
Nxumalo Laurika profile image

Laurika Nxumalo is a freelance academic research writer. She writes on a wide range of topics.


What is Racism?

Racism is the discrimination of one ethnic group by another ethnic group or an individual based particularly on race and other factors such as culture, religion, skin color, and physical appearance. Racism results from avoidable and unfair differences in power, resources and opportunities between ethnic groups. In general, the perception of racialism is that one race is inferior or superior to another ethnic group.

Types of Racism

‘Internalized racism’ is the perception that the dominant society perpetuates negative attitudes, values, philosophies and prejudices as factual about the race. This perpetuates negative self-images and recognition through despair, impoverishment, poverty and embracing perceived and increased insufficiency.

‘Interpersonal racism’ refers to the contact between people who maintain and propagate racial inequality, including the use of name and insult. The systemic racism includes criteria, circumstances, procedures, policies and processes that sustain and reproducing avoidable and unequal inequalities between racial or ethnic groups and increases their vulnerability to prejudice and discrimination, devaluation and contempt, and distrust and indifference.

‘Systemic (or institutionalized) racism’ limits access to housing, training, jobs, revenue and living conditions as well as information, money, power, medical services and representations. Systematic racism in the healthcare system explicitly and severely impairs the efficiency and access of proper medical assistance. When racism is rife in the healthcare system, it can cause unfair and limited access to the means that are necessary in conducting a healthy lifestyle (education, housing, employment, healthcare, etc.) and it can exposed patients to risky factors related to an unhealthy life (dangerous goods, toxic substances, and junk food). Other negative effects that racism can have on patients are stressful cognitive/emotional responses that have negative influences on cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and other biological systems; patients can also end up stop practicing healthy routines such as going for their routine check-ups.

Racism in Healthcare

These are some of the stories captured by the media in Australia about racism in the healthcare sector:

Systematic racism article: Patrick Cumaiyi was the victim of police brutality in Australia, including a cover-up, as medical records obtained by The New York Times show. Mr. Cumaiyi`s treatment, which left him with a fractured skull, provides a disturbing insight into Australia – it shows that the nation has not completely lost the legacy that was left to them by colonizers. Another troubling aspect of Cumaiyi's case is that medical records and other documents that The New York Times verified, confirmed that Cumaiyi was not just a victim of police brutality, but also that health and police officials covered up what caused his wounds and the extent of injury. The courts did not question anything.

Interpersonal racism article: In 2017, nurses in Australia were against a change in policies that required them to “acknowledge white privilege” before medically assisting patients who are Indigenous Australians. Midwives and nurses around Australia had to abide by a newly written code of conduct with a part of it stipulating that is explicitly dedicated to “culture” and that it gives detail on how non-indigenous Australians/White Australians ‘inherent privilege’ compared to Torres Straight Islanders and Indigenous Australians.

Internalized racism cases: A specialist at the ‘Menzies School of Health Research’, Dr Paul Lawton, said kidney specialists in Australian meant well when they chose non-indigenous Australians over indigenous Australians when it came to kidney transplants. It was evident that internalized racism had led to unsatisfactorily low rates of kidney transplants among patients who are Indigenous Australians. Dr. Lawton said that the Australian healthcare system favored patients who are non-indigenous Australians over Torres Strait Islander people and Aboriginal Australians.

Transforming Institutionalized Racism

Health providers with better cultural skills and sensitivity can reduce health disparities. In order to provide solutions to build cultural skills, healthcare providers and institutions have to work together to develop innovative solutions. Cultural competence appraisal approaches to provide self-assessments are another method that can help in transforming institutionalized racism. Healthcare facility leaders should also play their part in combating racism within the organizations that they lead.

The lack of clarity on what institutional racism is and how it should be managed can create additional friction and increase change resistance. Overcoming culturally sensitive and developing non-judgmental communication skills is the best way that healthcare providers can provide proper healthcare to patients from different ethnic groups.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)