Your browser doesn't support JavaScript. Please upgrade to a modern browser or enable JavaScript in your existing browser.
Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Collecting, Using, and Disseminating Health Data on Minority Populations

Minority Population Needs


Walter "Pete" Bailey, M.P.H., Section Chief, Health and Demographics Section, South Carolina Budget and Control Board, Office of Research and Statistics.

Richard T. Haverkate, M.P.H., Health Services Director, Health Services Division, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc.

Peter A. Morrison, Ph.D., Consultant, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA.

This session examined how to link health data with other kinds of data such as education, income, social services, and geography to gain a more complete understanding of racial and ethnic disparities. Projects in South Carolina and Michigan that have successfully used various kinds of data to address issues of health disparities were highlighted. In addition, this session addressed some of the issues arising from analyzing new Census information and explored means for bridging Census data sets to allow for analysis of trends.

Walter Bailey explained that it takes more than health data systems to understand and resolve health problems. Integration of data systems provides the necessary information to understand differences in disparities. He described the various components that make up an integrated data system and provided an example of linking data from some of these components to estimate the South Carolina safety net population by age ranges and white/non-white race and ethnicity. Data sources used included Medicaid, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, uninsured hospitalizations, emergency room visits and outpatient surgeries.

Richard Haverkate discussed how data is used to assess perinatal health in Michigan's tribal population. He explained that there are approximately 125,000 American Indians (or American Indian + other) in Michigan with about 1,200 American Indian births each year. According to Haverkate, misreporting race and not reporting tribal affiliations pose significant challenges in data analysis related to infant mortality and morbidity.

Strategies for more accurate analysis include:

  • Using expanded criteria for identifying cases of American Indian from vital records (e.g., race of infant, mother or father).
  • Using three- and five-year averages to increase statistical reliability.

Haverkate described the Geographic Information System (GIS), which can map where the incidents of American Indian infant mortality in Michigan are occurring. GIS analysis shows patterns and relationships in geographic data, providing insight to help focus actions. For example, GIS can help answer the question: Why do Native American babies in Michigan die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at rates 3 to 4 times higher than White American babies in Michigan? GIS can help identify the vulnerable areas that require special consideration when planning, delivering, or evaluating services.

Peter Morrison rounded out this session by reviewing Census Bureau resources, offering some skill-building tools, and explaining the new race classifications. Demographic data resources available from the Census include race and ethnicity, age, and family or household makeup. Socioeconomic data include education, income, poverty, and English proficiency. Additional population and housing data is collected from those who complete the long-form Census questionnaire.

Morrison described some interactive Internet tools that tabulate and map geographic data from the 2000 and 1990 Decennial Censuses, Census 2000 Supplemental Survey (C2SS), and the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is a new approach to collecting timely socio-economic and housing data for three million households annually. Full-implementation of the ACS is expected in 2003 with replacement of the long-form in the 2010 census. The C2SS tested the feasibility of collecting long-form information at the same as the short-form Decennial Census using the questionnaire and methods of the ACS. Census Bureau Web sites facilitate data access and exploratory analysis.

Morrison also discussed the new race classifications on Census 2000. Morrison acknowledges that relating new race classifications to non-Census data will be tricky. He expects additional detailed data to be released during 2002.

Additional Resources

U.S. Census Bureau. American FactFinder: Introduction for New Users.

U.S. Census Bureau. Data on: Race and Hispanic Origin.

Current as of February 2003

Previous Section Previous Section       Contents                        

Internet Citation:

Collecting, Using, and Disseminating Health Data on Minority Populations. Workshop Brief, March 5-6, 2002. User Liaison Program. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.

AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care