Conceptual and Methodological Issues in the Use of Race as a Variable: Policy Implications

The concept of race permeates social and behavioral science as well as epidemiologic research, but its meaning is rarely specific or precise. When is it being used as a genetic construct, when as an indicator or a covariant with socioeconomic status, and when as an undifferentiated statistical construct? Scientific axioms, federal and state policies, the nature of health behavior interventions, and the distribution of health services are contingent on the empirical explication of race. If they are based on one meaning over another, the outcomes could be critical.

Author(s): Doris Y. Wilkinson; Gary King

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Volume 65, Issue S1 (pages 56–71)
Published in 1987