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Am J Public Health. 1994 Jun;84(6):1018-21.

The reliability of racial classifications in hospital discharge abstract data.

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  • 1College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032.


Many studies demonstrating an association between race and the use of medical services have used hospital discharge abstract data. The quality of the measures of race in such data sources has heretofore been unexplored. Hospital discharge abstract data from New York State were used to identify 767 cardiac patients who had been admitted to a hospital twice. Racial classifications during the two admissions were concordant 93.7% of the time. Kappa was .89 for Blacks, .72 for Whites, and .43 for all other racial groups. Evidence suggests that the misclassification of race in hospital discharge abstract data is nondifferential; racial discrepancies in access to medical services are thus probably even greater than those previously reported.

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