Race/ethnicity: Who is counting what?

Huanguang Jia*, Yu E. Zheng, Diane C. Cowper, James P. Stansbury, Samuel S. Wu, W. Bruce Vogel, Pamela W. Duncan, Dean M. Reker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Misclassification of race and ethnicity in administrative data may produce misleading results if it is overlooked or ignored. In this study, we examined the racial/ethnic classifications of 1,084 veterans with stroke in Florida who received inpatient and outpatient services within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system and who were also eligible for Medicare between 2000 and 2001. We compared the reliability of racial/ethnic classifications between VA inpatient data, VA outpatient data, and Medicare data. Our results showed that (1) the rate of unknown racial/ethnic classification in VA outpatient and inpatient data was high, (2) minimizing the unknowns by substituting known values from other data when available would greatly enhance the overall and individual classification reliability, (3) black and white classifications in the VA data had stronger agreement with Medicare data, and (4) Medicare data may under-represent Hispanic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-483
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of rehabilitation research and development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Administrative data
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Ethnicity
  • Medicare
  • Race
  • Racial/ethnic classification
  • Reliability
  • Social Security Administration
  • Stroke
  • Validity
  • Veterans


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