204424 Issues in assessment of “race” among Latinos: Implications for public health

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vincent C. Allen, BA , Social and Behavioral Research Branch, NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, MD
Christina Lachance, MPH , Nhgri, HHS/NIH, Rockville, MD
Britt Rios-Ellis, PhD, MS , NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Kimberly Kaphingst, ScD , Social and Behavioral Research Branch, NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, MD
Measurement of individuals' race/ethnicity is an integral part of assessing and addressing disparities in health experienced by racial and ethnic minorities. However, the measurement of the social construct of race as it relates to Latinos has been the source of much debate. The unique historical and cultural experiences of Latinos related to race and racism has impacted individuals' responses to measurement approaches. In particular, the selection of “some other race” in surveys (e.g., by 42% of Latinos in Census 2000) is a critical issue to consider. Meaningful characterization of this growing population is becoming increasingly important; however, data collection methodologies yielding ambiguous responses reveal little about the population. This issue has implications for how health data on Latinos is collected, reported, and interpreted, and to whom resources are allocated. The burden of disparities in health experienced by the Latino community makes the need for a more complete understanding of this population of particular importance.

This paper examines Latinos' selection of “some other race” when asked to classify their race, and how this relates to their historical experience and understanding of their racial identity. For example, research indicates that understandings of race among Latinos differ from the predominant U.S. conceptualizations of this construct, thereby affecting measurement. Data collection methodologies also impact reporting of race. We offer recommendations for measuring race and ethnicity in research and policy settings in ways that have the potential to yield more meaningful data that can be used to address the health needs of Latinos.

Learning Objectives:
1) Discuss the selection of various racial response options among Latino respondents to surveys and how this reflects historical experiences and identity. 2) Explore changes in reporting of race among Latinos and factors affecting this reporting, and the implications this has for understanding this population.

Keywords: Latino, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am one of the contributors to this project and did a considerable portion of the research and writing.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.