BACKGROUND: Racism has been identified as a major source of injustice and a health burden in Australia and across the world. Despite the surge in Australian quantitative research on the topic, and the increasing recognition of the prevalence and impact of racism in Australian society, the collective evidence base has yet to be comprehensively reviewed or meta-analysed. This protocol describes the first systematic review and meta-analysis of racism in Australia at the national level, focussing on quantitative studies. The current study will considerably improve our understanding of racism, including its manifestations and fluctuation over time, variation across settings and between groups, and associations with health and socio-economic outcomes.
METHODS: The research will consist of a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Searches for relevant studies will focus on the social and health science databases CINAHL, PsycINFO, PubMed and Scopus. Two reviewers will independently screen eligible papers for inclusion and extract data from included studies. Studies will be included in the review and meta-analysis where they meet the following criteria: (1) report quantitative empirical research on self-reported racism in Australia, (2) report data on the prevalence of racism, or its association with health (e.g. mental health, physical health, health behaviours) or socio-economic outcomes (e.g. education, employment, income), and (3) report Australian data. Measures of racism will focus on study participants' self-reports, with a separate analysis dedicated to researcher-reported measures, such as segregation and differential outcomes across racial/ethnic groups. Measures of health and socio-economic outcomes will include both self-reports and researcher-reported measures, such as physiological measurements. Existing reviews will be manually searched for additional studies. Study characteristics will be summarised, and a meta-analysis of the prevalence of racism and its associations will be conducted using random effects models and mean weighted effect sizes. Moderation and subgroup analyses will be conducted as well. All analyses will use the software CMA 3.0.
DISCUSSION: This study will provide a novel and comprehensive synthesis of the quantitative evidence base on racism in Australia. It will answer questions about the fluctuation of racism over time, its variation across settings and groups, and its relationship with health and socio-economic outcomes. Findings will be discussed in relation to broader debates in this growing field of research and will be widely disseminated to inform anti-racism research, action and policy nationally.
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42021265115 .