• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of pubhealthrepLink to Publisher's site
Public Health Rep. 2001; 116(Suppl 1): 223–243.
PMCID: PMC1913670

Quality of data in multiethnic health surveys.


OBJECTIVE: There has been insufficient research on the influence of ethno-cultural and language differences in public health surveys. Using data from three independent studies, the authors examine methods to assess data quality and to identify causes of problematic survey questions. METHODS: Qualitative and quantitative methods were used in this exploratory study, including secondary analyses of data from three baseline surveys (conducted in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese). Collection of additional data included interviews with investigators and interviewers; observations of item development; focus groups; think-aloud interviews; a test-retest assessment survey; and a pilot test of alternatively worded questions. RESULTS: The authors identify underlying causes for the 12 most problematic variables in three multiethnic surveys and describe them in terms of ethnic differences in reliability, validity, and cognitive processes (interpretation, memory retrieval, judgment formation, and response editing), and differences with regard to cultural appropriateness and translation problems. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple complex elements affect measurement in a multiethnic survey, many of which are neither readily observed nor understood through standard tests of data quality. Multiethnic survey questions are best evaluated using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods that reveal different types and causes of problems.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (10M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • McKenney NR, Bennett CE. Issues regarding data on race and ethnicity: the Census Bureau experience. Public Health Rep. 1994 Jan-Feb;109(1):16–25. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Devins GM, Beiser M, Dion R, Pelletier LG, Edwards RG. Cross-cultural measurements of psychological well-being: the psychometric equivalence of Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Laotian translations of the Affect Balance Scale. Am J Public Health. 1997 May;87(5):794–799. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Karvonen S, Abel T, Calmonte R, Rimpelä A. Patterns of health-related behaviour and their cross-cultural validity--a comparative study on two populations of young people. Soz Praventivmed. 2000;45(1):35–45. [PubMed]
  • Guillemin F, Bombardier C, Beaton D. Cross-cultural adaptation of health-related quality of life measures: literature review and proposed guidelines. J Clin Epidemiol. 1993 Dec;46(12):1417–1432. [PubMed]
  • Guillemin F, Briançon S, Pourel J. Validity and discriminant ability of the HAQ Functional Index in early rheumatoid arthritis. Disabil Rehabil. 1992 Apr-Jun;14(2):71–77. [PubMed]
  • Chang RH, Dodder RA. The Modified Purpose in Life Scale: a Cross-National Validity Study. Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1983;18(3):207–217. [PubMed]
  • Warnecke RB, Johnson TP, Chávez N, Sudman S, O'Rourke DP, Lacey L, Horm J. Improving question wording in surveys of culturally diverse populations. Ann Epidemiol. 1997 Jul;7(5):334–342. [PubMed]
  • Warnecke RB, Sudman S, Johnson TP, O'Rourke D, Davis AM, Jobe JB. Cognitive aspects of recalling and reporting health-related events: Papanicolaou smears, clinical breast examinations, and mammograms. Am J Epidemiol. 1997 Dec 1;146(11):982–992. [PubMed]
  • Jenkins CN, McPhee SJ, Bird JA, Pham GQ, Nguyen BH, Nguyen T, Lai KQ, Wong C, Davis TB. Effect of a media-led education campaign on breast and cervical cancer screening among Vietnamese-American women. Prev Med. 1999 Apr;28(4):395–406. [PubMed]
  • Baker SA, Morrison DM, Carter WB, Verdon MS. Using the theory of reasoned action (TRA) to understand the decision to use condoms in an STD clinic population. Health Educ Q. 1996 Nov;23(4):528–542. [PubMed]

Articles from Public Health Reports are provided here courtesy of Association of Schools of Public Health


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...