Many public health researchers struggle to measure health inequalities by ethnic group because of a lack of appropriate ethnicity data in their patient records.
New developments in name-based ethnicity classifications have allowed researchers to overcome this problem. The Health Protection Agency in England (now Public Health England), analysed names data from the Sentinel Surveillance of Blood-Borne Virus testing program, which tests for HIV, HTLV-1 and Hepatitis (A-E), to identify differences in results by ethnicity.
“In this report we have focused entirely upon a combined ethnicity derived from a number of sources, either self reported, Nam Pechan and Onomap (now Onolytics). These rich data sources have enabled us to better reflect and report on the ethnic variability within our dataset.” Health Protection Agency (2011; pp ii) Target Testing in England
In this report the HPA found that Asian or Asian British are 2.5 times more likely to test positive compared to white or white British, and this difference increases to 5 times for children. Similar odds ratio are reported for other types of hepatitis as shown in the graph below.
The name-based ethnicity classification they used is now called @Onolytics, and it has proved very valuable to researchers seeking the classification of patient registers and population research databases without appropriate ethnicity information.
Find out more on how Onolytics can help public health analysts through the classification of patient records: