Background: Ethnicity data in general practice (GP) computerized medical records can be utilized to audit equity in health care.
Methods: We evaluated a patient profiling project targeted to improve ethnicity recording.
Results: Data extracted from 16 practices showed an increase in ethnicity recording from <1% before the intervention to 48% after. Recorded codes could be mapped onto the basic national statistics six-category ethnicity classification headings, and their proportions were similar to the 2001 census values.
Conclusion: Recording of data using multiple coding hierarchies has reduced the utility of data as clinically important ethnic subgroups cannot be identified. Practitioners should be encouraged to use the single recommended ethnicity coding hierarchy.