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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Volume 43 Number 4, July/August 2006
Pages 475 — 484

Abstract - Race/ethnicity: Who is counting what?

Huanguang Jia, PhD;1* Yu E. Zheng, MS;1-2 Diane C. Cowper, PhD;1 James P. Stansbury, PhD;1,3
Samuel S. Wu, PhD;1-2 W. Bruce Vogel, PhD;1 Pamela W. Duncan, PhD;1 Dean M. Reker, PhD1

1Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center, Gainesville Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center,
Gainesville, FL; Departments of 2Statistics and 3Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Abstract — 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.
Key words: administrative data, ethnicity, Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicare, race, racial/ethnic classification, reliability, Social Security Administration, stroke, validity, veterans.

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