Objective: This article addresses the definitional and methodological problems associated with the most common uses of race as a variable in health research.
Principal findings: Although often used in health services research, race is a poorly understood concept because it lacks conceptual clarity. Moreover, the measurement problems with race have not yet been adequately addressed. As a result, many quantitative models that attempt to explain race differences are inadequate to inform health or social policy.
Conclusions: Researchers should treat the race variable with the same degree of caution and skepticism with which it treats any other variable.