Respondents Favor Legislation Allowing Collection of Racial, Ethnic Data to Improve Health Care

Survey of a diverse group of people on their perceptions of the collection of racial and ethnic data

Researchers at Public Opinion Strategies, a survey research company in Alexandria, Va., conducted a national telephone survey of people's attitudes toward collecting racial and ethnic data for health care purposes.

From September 7 to 22, 2003, researchers surveyed 1,940 adults who have health care coverage: 1,190 people who represented the general adult population, plus 250 African Americans, 250 Hispanics and 250 Asian Americans.

Key Findings

  • A majority of respondents (54%) favor legislation allowing collection of data on racial or ethnic origin in health care when told of the benefits.

  • Respondents found it more acceptable for some health care groups and organizations—physicians and hospitals—to collect racial and ethnic information than for HMOs/health insurance companies and employers to do so.

  • Throughout the survey, African Americans, specifically those with lower levels of education and income, were less supportive of the legislation and less likely to see the benefits of collecting racial and ethnic data than Hispanics or Asian Americans.