Journal of
Public Health and Epidemiology

  • Abbreviation: J. Public Health Epidemiol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2316
  • DOI: 10.5897/JPHE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 653

Full Length Research Paper

Race and ethnicity of mothers with Spanish surnames

Carlos R. Oliveira*, Alicia Guzman, Gaynelle Hensely, Melissa H. Leps, Nancy A. Miller and Pablo J. Sánchez
Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, United States.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 19 July 2013
  •  Published: 30 September 2013


The objective of this study was to assess how hospital designation of race/ethnicity based on Spanish surnames of mothers correlated with the self-report, and explores how these mothers identified their own race/ethnicity using the National Institutes of Health (NIH) categories. 235 mothers were enrolled prospectively and asked to report their race/ethnicity. Positive predictive value (PPV) of using surnames as a tool for assigning race/ethnicity was determined. The PPV of using surnames to identify ethnicity and race was 79 and 30%, respectively. 57% of mothers could not identify their race by the NIH categories. Although Spanish surnames more accurately reflected ethnicity than race, its use was associated with substantial discrepancies.


Key words: Race, ethnicity, self-report, Latino.