Health and Community Well-being

A recent body of literature connects Islamophobia to negative health outcomes of Muslim communities facing discrimination. These perspectives draw on previous works around the impacts of racism on health to highlight the negative impacts of stigmatized Muslim identities on the mental and physical health of Muslims, which ultimately result in health disparities. Namely, key contributions highlight the way Islamophobia increases stress-related outcomes such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, and fear, all of which impact the overall well-being of Muslim communities in the US. Further, key works focus on how Islamophobia manifests within healthcare settings, and the way in which negative experiences limit the way Muslims navigate and access the healthcare systems. There is a need for further research in this area in order to capture the multiple dimensions of Islamophobia and Muslim identity, as well as understand the relationship between Islamophobia and health at the structural level. An example of such work could be an investigation into the impacts of negative media coverage on the health outcomes of American Muslims. These readings highlight the opportunity for researchers to examine the health effects of Islamophobia, and the intersection of various forms of discrimination, such as gender, race, and class.  

Annotations

Frequently cited

Rippy AE, Newman E. Perceived religious discrimination and its relationship to anxiety and paranoia among Muslim Americans. Journal of Muslim Mental Health 1, no. 1 (2006):5–20.

In this article, Alyssa Rippy and Elana Newman from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma attempt to provide an early documentation of the effects of perceived discrimination on the mental health of Muslim Americans following the 9/11 attacks. The analysis is based on 152 questionnaire responses of Muslims living in Oklahoma in 2005, including both first- and second-generation Muslims across a wide range of ethnic groups. This article provides an overview of the background literature on the way perceptions of discrimination differ among individuals as well as on the effects of discrimination and hate crimes on the mental health of subjected minorities. In highlighting the lack of research on these connections for the US Muslim community, the authors critically examine perceived discrimination and its association with subclinical paranoia and anxiety among their Muslim respondents. Results of the survey presented a statistically significant relationship between perceived religious discrimination and subclinical paranoia; however, perceived discrimination and anxiety were not related. The authors suggest that perceived discrimination among Muslim Americans is related to the expression of increased vigilance and suspicion, which could lead to social withdrawal or isolation within their group. This could also be interpreted as avoidance or escape from discriminatory social situations or negative social interactions. This vigilance was reflected on a group level, where participants reported an increased perception of societal discrimination since the attacks of 9/11 compared to a moderate perception of an increase of personal discrimination faced individually. This early contribution to Islamophobia and health verifies that Muslims face race-related stress, which produces aversive psychological symptoms. Overall, these findings emphasize the negative impacts of perceived discrimination on Muslims in America including increased paranoia, social withdrawal, or isolation from one’s racial, religious, or ethnic group.

Critical Insight

Samari, Goleen. "Islamophobia and Public Health in the United States." American Journal of Public Health 106, no. 11 (2016): 1920-25.

In this article, Goleen Samari, a postdoctoral fellow with the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, calls for a public health perspective on the implications of Islamophobic discrimination on the physical health of stigmatized Muslim Americans. The article contextualizes this argument through an overview of the expanding climate of Islamophobia in the US, followed by a connection between experiences of religious and racial discrimination among Muslim Americans to health disparities. Samari does so by problematizing the negative influence of stigma and discrimination on health via the disruption of several systems, including individual (such as stress reactivity and stereotype threat), interpersonal (such as interpersonal relationships) and structural (institutional policies and media coverage) processes that are known determinants of health. Presenting Islamophobia as an opportunity to examine the intersecting health effects of various forms of discrimination, Samari urges public health researchers to place Islamophobia on the discrimination and health research agenda. She particularly encourages structural-level research on the impacts of Islamophobia and its various “moderators/mediators” such as race, ethnicity, and visible religiosity on the physical and mental health of Muslim Americans. The article proposes a range of research directions for those interested in the link between Islamophobia and the social determinants of health. This includes more research on Islamophobia and physical health, further analysis of racial and non-racial discrimination, the effects of moderators and mediators for stigma, discrimination and health, as well as a deeper understanding of the way structural stigma impacts Islamophobia and health. Overall, Samari stresses that public health research should explore the multilevel and multidimensional pathways linking Islamophobia to population physical and mental health.

Recent Perspectives

Martin, Mary Brigid. "Perceived discrimination of Muslims in health care." Journal of Muslim Mental Health 9, no. 2 (2015): 41-69.

In this article, Mary Brigid Martin, a certified Transcultural Nurse and Nurse Educator, explores the crossover of anti-Muslim discrimination from society to the healthcare setting. This paper therefore aims to ascertain the extent of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination in US healthcare settings and the types of discriminatory behaviors Muslims report in the American healthcare setting. Additionally, the author aims to uncover care preferences among Muslim Americans that may inform culturally congruent care practices and to test a newly developed instrument designed to measure anti-Muslim discrimination in the healthcare setting. The main findings of the article are drawn from an online survey that was administered from January to April 2012 with 227 self-identifying Muslims living in the US who had reported a healthcare encounter since 9/11. The survey included a new fifteen-item tool, the Health Care Discrimination Scale (HCDS), which measures anti-Muslim discrimination across items like healthcare cultural safety, patient perception of fair treatment, and respect for identity, in addition to another set of scales allocated to patient/family cultural needs. Overall, the findings of this study reflected that anti-Muslim discrimination crosses over from society to the healthcare setting in the United States. Nearly one-third of subjects perceived that they were discriminated against when accessing healthcare services. Being excluded or ignored was the most frequently reported type of discrimination, followed by problems related to the use of Muslim clothing, offensive or insensitive verbal remarks, and problems related to Islamic holidays, prayer rituals, and physical assault, respectively. Interestingly, reported perceptions of anti-Muslim discrimination were found to be higher after the Boston Marathon Bombings, which is connected to an overall increase in attacks against Muslims following media reports of terror attacks supposedly perpetrated by Muslims. In specifying the implications of these findings for practice, education, policy, and future research, this article provides a significant perspective on how Islamophobia is being experienced in the healthcare space by Muslim patients.

Reading List