Abstract: Interventions to Reduce Racial Discrimination in the United States: A Scoping Review (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Interventions to Reduce Racial Discrimination in the United States: A Scoping Review

Sunday, January 15, 2023
North Mountain, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Shenyang Guo, PhD, Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Yuanyuan Yang, MPA, Doctoral Student, Washington University in Saint Louis, MO
Linyun Fu, MSW, MSW, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background and Purpose: The disproportionate use of lethal force by police against African Americans, the enlarged racial inequalities due to the implementation of nonpharmaceutical and economic interventions fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic, and the hate crimes against Asian Americans have spurred movements to reform police practices, and, more broadly, to reduce racism in the United States. Social work researchers and practitioners have long been interested in using purposeful actions or theory-grounded interventions to bring about desirable changes. Indeed, there have being pioneering attempts of using interventions to reduce racial discrimination. This paper presents findings of a scoping review to synthesize existing literature about such interventions; particularly we synthesized the methodological features of seventeen anti-racist interventions reported in peer-reviewed journals from 2014 to 2021.

The proposed paper is organized around three objectives: (1) present the methods and definitions of keywords employed in the scoping review; (2) present key findings of 17 studies in terms of their study design, sampling, sample size, and analytic methods; and (3) discuss the implications and potentials of using scientific evidences and methods to reduce racial discrimination. As such, we aimed to address two research questions: (1) What information has been presented on anti-racism interventions in the literature since 2014? And (2) what are the key characteristics of studies of anti-racist interventions?

Methods: A 5-phase search process recommended by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) to identify anti-racism interventions was used. The searches recovered 1,928 citations. After screening, 17 articles were retained for a full-text review.

Results: We synthesized eight themes with regard to the research methodology used to date in the anti-racism intervention literature. Ten of the 17 studies employed pre- and post-intervention designs. Four studies used an experimental approach with a comparison group, and one employed randomized controls. Except one study using 8,634 participants, the study samples range from 20 to 721 participants (mean = 112, SD=164.8). Eleven studies employed reliable/valid instruments to measure racism. Thirteen studies explicitly stated the theoretical models employed in the development of intervention programs.

Conclusions and Implications: The scoping review has promising findings in the sense that scholars are attempting to design and develop interventions to reduce racial discrimination in the United States. It underscores the importance of using scientific methods, such as intervention research, to reduce racial discrimination, prejudices, stereotypes, biases, and stigmatization. It suggests that reducing discrimination via purposively designed interventions is possible. Although the field of racial justice is not novel, intervention research with a particular focus on reducing racial discrimination at the individual level, as shown by the current review, is limited on its scope and depth. It is no wonder that the majority of intervention programs used small and convenience samples, applied quasi-experimental rather than RCT approaches. Moving forward, researchers and practitioners need to make additional efforts to improve both the external and internal validity of future studies. Based on eight themes emerging from the synthesis, we made three recommendations for improving the anti-racism interventions.