Issues in the Assessment of "Race" among Latinos: Implications for Research and Policy

Hisp J Behav Sci. 2011 Nov;33(4):411-424. doi: 10.1177/0739986311422880.


Measurement of race and ethnicity is integral to assessing and addressing health disparities experienced by minorities. However, the unique experiences of Latinos related to race and the discordance between understandings of race among Latinos and the predominant U.S. conceptualizations of this construct impact how Latinos respond to measurement approaches. As a result, data collection methodologies often yield ambiguous responses that reveal little about this population. This paper examines Latinos' racial responding, and how this relates to their experiences and understanding of their racial identity. We recommend the use of a combined race and ethnicity question and open-ended race and ethnicity questions, when feasible, which will likely yield more meaningful data that can be used to address this populations' health needs.