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Racism and Mortality

A student passed on this  article relating racism to higher mortality rates:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122963#pone.0122963.ref001

It is chock full of standard deviations, correlation and p-values.  In the following abstract note the 8.2% (adjusted to 5.7%) increase in black mortality associated to 1 sd greater level of racism (this would come from the slope of the regression line: increasing racism correlated with increasing mortality), and the significance at p = 0.001 (only a 0.1% probability of getting results like this by chance) indicating that mortality rates for areas with high racism are significantly different than mortality rates for areas with low racism (Null Hypothesis: mortality rates equal for areas with different racism).

Area racism was the proportion of Google searches containing the “N-word” in 196 designated market areas (DMAs). DMAs characterized by a one standard deviation greater level of area racism were associated with an 8.2% increase in the all-cause Black mortality rate, equivalent to over 30,000 deaths annually. The magnitude of this effect was attenuated to 5.7% after adjustment for DMA-level demographic and Black socioeconomic covariates. A model controlling for the White mortality rate was used to further adjust for unmeasured confounders that influence mortality overall in a geographic area, and to examine Black-White disparities in the mortality rate. Area racism remained significantly associated with the all-cause Black mortality rate (mortality rate ratio = 1.036; 95% confidence interval = 1.015, 1.057; p = 0.001).

This is a POWERFUL and DISTURBING result, if you can understand it: Racism Kills.  The recent events over the past year related to #blacklivesmatter have shocked the country. Having the right data and communicating effectively with it is incredibly important for social activism and for creating/interpreting graphics like the following (in particular understanding what 0.5 SD above the mean actually means):

racism

Chae DH, Clouston S, Hatzenbuehler ML, Kramer MR, Cooper HLF, et al. (2015) Association between an Internet-Based Measure of Area Racism and Black Mortality. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0122963. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122963

 

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