Discrepancies in racial designations of school children in Minneapolis

R. F. Gillum, O. Gomez-Marin, R. J. Prineas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


To determine the frequency of inaccuracies in racial designations of school children in a health survey, racial designations were examined for a sample of 1,509 children in Minneapolis public schools who participated in the first home interview of the Minneapolis Children's Blood Pressure Study. The data were obtained from three sources: the school enrollment data based on parentally supplied information and teachers' visual judgments, school survey interviewers participating in a research project, and the parents themselves, at home interviews. Assuming the correctness of the information obtained from the parent in the home interview, cross tabulation comparisons were made of the accuracy of the information obtained from the other sources, and within sources. Results show a high degree of agreement between the parents' or teachers' designations at enrollment, and survey interviewers' sight judgments. Furthermore, sight judgments of interviewers show high repeatability. There was a significant degree of disagreement between the designations by teachers' and screeners' visual jugdments, obtained in school, and the interviews with the parents. Misidentification occurred for up to 20 percent of Native American children, a rate which, if prevalent, may significantly affect public health studies which are based on racial identifications of school children. When possible, researchers studying Native American or mixed race populations should verify racial designations from school documents or sight judgments. Questionnaires to be answered by parents need to have sufficiently detailed categories to enable parents of different racial groups to identify different racial groups accurately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-488
Number of pages4
JournalPublic health reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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