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Med Care. 2006 Apr;44(4):328-33.

Development and validation of a surname list to define Chinese ethnicity.

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Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



Surnames have the potential to accurately identify ancestral origins as they are passed on from generation to generation. In this study, we developed and validated a Chinese surname list to define Chinese ethnicity.


We conducted a literature review, a panel review, and a telephone survey in a randomly selected sample from a Canadian city in 2003 to develop a Chinese surname list. The list was then validated to data from the Canadian Community Health Survey. Both surveys collected information on self-reported ethnicity and surname.


Of the 112,452 people analyzed in the Canadian Community Health Survey, 1.6% were self-reported as Chinese. This was similar to the 1.5% identified by the surname list. Compared with self-reported Chinese ethnicity (reference standard), the surname list had 77.7% sensitivity, 80.5% positive predictive value, 99.7% specificity, and 99.6% negative predictive value. When stratifying by sex and marital status, the positive predictive value was 78.9% for married women and 83.6% for never married women.


The Chinese surname list appears to be valid in identifying Chinese ethnicity. The validity may depend on the geographic origins and Chinese dialects in given populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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