Area deprivation measures provide a pragmatic tool for targeting public health interventions at socioeconomically deprived individuals. Ethnic minority groups in the UK experience higher levels of socioeconomic deprivation and certain associated diseases than the White population. The aim of this study was to explore ethnic differences in the utility of area deprivation measures as a tool for targeting socioeconomically deprived individuals. We carried out a cross-sectional study using the Health Survey for England 2004. 7208 participants aged 16-64 years from the four largest ethnic groups in England (White, Indian, Pakistani and Black Caribbean) were included. The main outcome measures were percentage agreement, sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV) of area deprivation, measured using Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004, in relation to individual socioeconomic position (measured by education, occupation, income, housing tenure and car access). We found that levels of both area and individual deprivation were higher in the Pakistani and Black Caribbean groups compared to the White group. Across all measures, agreement was lower in the Pakistani (50.9-63.4%) and Black Caribbean (61.0-70.1%) groups than the White (67.2-82.4%) group. However, sensitivity was higher in the Pakistani (0.56-0.64) and Black Caribbean (0.59-0.66) groups compared to the White group (0.24-0.38) and PPV was at least as high. The results for the Indian group were intermediate. We conclude that, in spite of lower agreement, area deprivation is better at identifying individual deprivation in ethnic minority groups. There was no evidence that area based targeting of public health interventions will disadvantage ethnic minority groups.
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