woman with black glasses, curly hair wearing orange dress

Research Expertise and Interest

racial disparities in health; social determinants of health; race, class and gender; and poverty and inequality.

Research Description

Tina Sacks is associate professor at the School of Social Welfare. Her fields of interest include racial disparities in health; social determinants of health; race, class and gender; and poverty and inequality.

My program of scholarship innovatively contributes to our understanding of how social structure affects health and healthcare. Specifically, my work advances health inequities research among marginalized populations, focusing on how race, class, and gender affect outcomes for Black people and people of color. Additionally, I am among a handful of U.S. scholars that specifically investigates how discrimination affects the health and well-being of the Black middle class. Moreover, my work explores the mechanisms through which individual and structural discrimination affect racial minorities overall. I position my scholarship to improve understandings of how contemporary, historical, and inter-generational discrimination affect health and well-being among Black people and people of color; to uncover deeply embedded biases that affect the healthcare encounter; and to consider how structural discrimination affects health as a whole. Through the use of in-depth qualitative methods, creative work in film, writing and speaking in the public sphere, I amplify the perspectives of people who have been both historically and contemporarily marginalized in U.S. healthcare institutions specifically and in American society in general.


In the News

Breaking the cycle of shame about mental struggles in athletics

Long before sports superstars Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles braved the spotlight to defend their mental health, Graig Chow, a certified mental performance consultant at UC Berkeley, studied the culture that pushes elite athletes like NBA players Chamique Holdsclaw, Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan to their breaking points.

Race, law, and health policy

As the country moves toward reopening — and with it some sense of “normalcy” — UC Berkeley researchers said simply returning to normal isn’t enough. Rather, they said, dismantling structural racism must be part of any reopening strategy.

COVID-19’s unequal toll on black Americans: A Q&A with Tina Sacks

The recently-released data are shocking: COVID-19 is infecting and killing black people at an alarmingly high rate. An Associated Press analysis — one of the first attempts to examine the racial disparities of COVID-19 cases and deaths nationwide — has found that, of nearly 3,300 of the 13,000 deaths so far, about 42% of the deceased were African American. Black Americans account for about 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the AP analysis.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
January 28, 2019
Many African American women experience discrimination in their doctors' offices, and assistant social welfare professor Tina Sacks has researched and written a book exploring some of the ways the malpractice presents itself -- often through delayed or denied diagnosis and treatment -- and potential solutions to the problem. "When you look at inequalities in healthcare, you see a lot of studies tying the problems to race and poverty, but there's not a lot about educated, insured black women who are not poor," Professor Sacks says. "Yet infant mortality rates for black women with a college degree are higher than those for white women with just a high school education. I wanted to dig deeper into the personal experiences behind this disparity." The book is called Invisible Visits: Black Middle-Class Women in the American Healthcare System (Oxford University Press, 2019), and this Q&A with Professor Sacks originated at Berkeley News.
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