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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UAB Assesses Accuracy of Self-Reported Perceptions of Racial/Ethnic Community Composition

Dr. Bertha Hidalgo, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, along with Dr. Melody S. Goodman and colleagues from Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), recently examined the diagnostic accuracy of self-reported measures of individuals’ perceptions of the racial/ethnic composition of their communities with objective data (i.e., Census) as the criterion standard, and assessed differences in concordance in subjective and objective measures of segregation by race and ethnicity.

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[Photo: Dr. Bertha Hidalgo]

The researchers analyzed data from 943 adult community health center visitors in Suffolk County, New York, to assess differences between self-reported racial composition of current neighborhood and 2010 U.S. Census data. A cross-sectional convenience sample was obtained; questionnaires were used to compare participant responses about the racial composition of their current neighborhood and their town of residence.

Respondents who self-identified as White were more likely to self-report racial composition of their neighborhood consistent with 2010 Census estimates. Relative to Census estimates, 93.1 percent of Blacks overestimated the proportion of their current neighborhood that was Black, and 69.8 percent of Hispanics overestimated the proportion that was Hispanic.

Drs. Hidalgo and Goodman found that there were statistically significant differences between the participants’ self-reported neighborhood racial composition and Census data across race/ethnicity groups. They recommend that future studies are needed to validate self-reported measures of individuals’ perceptions of the racial/ethnic composition of their communities to examine the association between individual segregation experience and health.

“Diagnostic Accuracy of Self-Reported Racial Composition of Residential Neighborhood” was published online in May in the Annals of Epidemiology.

Journal article: http://www.annalsofepidemiology.org/article/S1047-2797(15)00157-X/abstract