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Sierra Carter, PhD | UW Psychiatry Grand Rounds

July 15 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Sierra Carter, PhD | UW Psychiatry Grand Rounds

Racial Trauma and Racial Health Disparities among Black American Populations: Examining Pathways to Healing, Collective Action, & Liberation

Talk Description:

The United States holds a historical legacy of oppression as well as a current sociopolitical climate of unrest due to the systemic perpetuation of injustice. Although there is a growing body of research literature on traditional conceptualizations of trauma in marginalized populations, there remains limited research that focuses on the confluence of racism and trauma in the lived experiences of these populations.
Research has demonstrated that racial discrimination is a significant and impactful contributing factor in accounting for racial disparities in mental and physical health across the life course. Within the racial discrimination literature, researchers have theorized about the extent to which experiences of racial discrimination can be viewed within the conceptualization of trauma as well as influence trauma symptoms (Bryant-Davis & Ocampo, 2005; Carter, 2007). Researchers further recognize the traumatic nature of experiences of racial discrimination and have demonstrated that these experiences can be associated with posttraumatic stress symptom reactions (Sibrava et al., 2019).
This talk will provide an overview of how Dr. Carter’s research has demonstrated the ways that racial discrimination impacts the health and well-being of Black Americans, a marginalized population that disproportionately experiences racial health disparities influenced by racism- related stress. This talk will also further elucidate the importance of examining racial discrimination in the conceptualization of trauma experiences and treatments.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to describe the importance of historical consciousness in understanding racism-related experiences (e.g., interpersonal, systemic/structural, & vicarious) and historical unjust legacies than can exacerbate current health disparities for Black Americans.
  2. Participants will be able to explain the unique challenges and clinical issues present in experiences of race-based stress and trauma among Black Americans.
  3. Participants will be able to identify potential avenues that can promote health equity and address the influence of racial discrimination on systems of engagement (e.g., the justice system & hospitals/healthcare).

About the Speaker:

Dr. Carter’s research focuses on racial health disparities and investigates how psychosocial and contextual stressors can affect both mental and physical health outcomes for underrepresented populations. She has had a long-standing interest in the ways that health disparities in African American populations arise and are maintained by psychological, physiological, and contextual processes. A common theme throughout much of her work has been examining how, across a life course, racial discrimination as an acute and chronic stressor can effect development and further exacerbate chronic illnesses and stress-related disorders.

Dr. Carter integrates clinical, physiological, and biobehavioral measurements in her research to aid in improved identification of mechanisms that can be targeted in prevention and/or treatment efforts to reduce racial health disparities. Her research program also examines how racial and cultural characteristics (e.g., racial identity, Africentric worldview, racial composition of communities, and place-based factors) influence health. This work utilizes a risk and resilience framework to further illuminate what may buffer the psychological and physical health impacts of racial discrimination. Her research in the area of risk and resilience aims to enhance our ability to tackle troubling health disparities in underserved and underrepresented communities.

Reading List:
The effect of early discrimination on accelerated aging among African Americans (Carter 2019)

Measuring the biological embedding of racial trauma among Black Americans utilizing the RDoC approach (Carter 2021)

Accreditation Statement

In support of improving patient care, the University of Wisconsin-Madison ICEP is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Credit Designation Statements

American Medical Association (AMA)

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.0 ANCC contact hours.

American Psychological Association (APA)

Continuing Education (CE) credits for psychologists are provided through the co-sponsorship of the American Psychological Association (APA) Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP). The APA CEP Office maintains responsibility for the content of the programs.

Continuing Education Units
The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP, as a member of the University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), authorizes this program for 0.125 continuing education units (CEUs) or 1.25 hours.


July 15
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
Event Categories:


Jennifer Noll