Article Review: The Concept of Race and Health Status in America, by David R. Williams, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, and Rueben C. Warren

Article Review: The Concept of Race and Health Status in America, by David R. Williams, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, and Rueben C. Warren



Article Review: The Concept of Race and Health Status in America, by David R. Williams, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, and Rueben C. Warren

Studies on the dimensions of racial disposition and health specifically in the United States unanimously indicate numerous health inequities that exist between the disparate ethnic or racial groups. The article, The Concept of Race and Health Status in America, by David R. Williams, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, and Rueben C. Warren delves deeper into these respective concerns. For the authors, race exists as an irrational and societally created taxonomy founded on ideology, which perceives certain human populaces as intrinsically superior to others due to exterior physical qualities as well as geographical origin. Even though the same notion of ethnicity is socially consequential, it is of little importance. Consequently, in their opinion, ethnic differences pertaining to health status occur mainly from disparities among racial groups in susceptibility or exposure to behavioral, material, psychosocial, and environmental resources and risk aspects.

The main thesis explored by the authors in the article focuses on the refutation of racial or ethnic qualities as the sole factors responsible for the disparities that exist between different racial groups in terms of health status. According to Williams, Lavizzo-Mourey, and Warren (1994), race is a misdirecting aspect. Regardless of its consequential nature, depending on it further only ignores other aspects that may be responsible for the health disparities that are evident among the concerned population groups. In addition, the representation of race as an invalid factor for study also forms part of the article’s thesis. Based on their views regarding the mentioned aspect, the authors perceive race as more of a social construct than an actual dimension that exists biologically. In other words, race does not subsist as a biological construct, In fact, it is a concept used to further means aimed at advancing government and political interests.

In order to develop the argument, the authors utilize population-based data in order to draw a comparative analysis between the present situation and events dating back as far as the 1900s. For instance, the rates of life expectancy in 1900 are utilized for purposes of showing the disparities that existed between the different population groups occupying the society at the time. Such populaces comprised whites, African Americans, and ‘non-whites’ (Williams, Lavizzo-Mourey, & Warren, 1994). In addition, similar data was used to draw life expectancy rates at birth for the same populations in 1990. In the end, the difference in the data collected indicated considerable progress in relation to the improvement of the health conditions among African Americans and whites. Aside from this, the authors also attempted to show the evidence of other influential factors which may lead to significant difference among the racial groups by presenting death, disability, and disease as dimensions responsible for affecting African Americans more negatively than whites. 

Undeniably, the authors’ focus on the relationship between race and health status in America resonates with the topic at hand. Regarding the studies, the subject focused on is based on the deficiencies or gaps that exist in the provision of healthcare in relation to the racial groups that are present in the country. The current situation in terms of healthcare within America indicates that significant disparities exist between the health statuses of the many racial groups that occupy the respective society. In addition to this, the article depicts this information by showing the extent to which these gaps in the provision of healthcare exist. By looking at previous studies researching this occurrence, the authors arrive at the conclusion that race is indeed a considerable factor in terms of the prevailing and disparate health status in the United States. Despite this acknowledgement, the authors further assert that other dimensions also contribute to the respective inequity.


Williams, D. R., Lavizzo-Mourey, & Warren, R. C. (1994). The concept of race and health status in America. Public Health Reports, 109(1), 26-41.

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