Agreement between administrative data and patients' self-reports of race/ethnicity

Am J Public Health. 2003 Oct;93(10):1734-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.10.1734.


Objectives: We examined agreement of administrative data with self-reported race/ethnicity and identified correlates of agreement.

Methods: We used Veterans Affairs administrative data and VA 1999 Large Health survey race/ethnicity data.

Results: Relatively low rates of agreement (approximately 60%) between data sources were largely the result of administrative data from patients whose race/ethnicity was unknown, with least agreement for Native American, Asian, and Pacific Islander patients. After exclusion of patients with missing race/ethnicity, agreement improved except for Native Americans. Agreement did not increase substantially after inclusion of data from individuals indicating multiple race/ethnicities. Patients for whom there was better agreement between data sources tended to be less educated, non-solitary living, younger, and White; to have sufficient food; and to use more inpatient Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care.

Conclusions: Better reporting of race/ethnicity data will improve agreement between data sources. Previous studies using VA administrative data may have underestimated racial disparities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual / standards*
  • Demography
  • Ethnic Groups / classification*
  • Health Services Research
  • Hospitals, Veterans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Patients / classification*
  • Public Health Informatics*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Concept*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs*
  • Veterans / classification*