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Kaufman and Cooper Respond to “‘Race,’ Racism, and the Practice of Epidemiology”


Kaufman, Jay S. & Cooper, Richard S. (2001). Kaufman and Cooper Respond to "'Race,' Racism, and the Practice of Epidemiology". American Journal of Epidemiology, 154(4), 305-6.


We appreciate very much Dr. Jones' invited commentary, which broadens the scope of the discussion considerably (1). Our essay sought merely to evaluate the technical limitations of common quantitative epidemiologic methods when race/ethnicity is used as a variable in etiologic research and to make recommendations concerning which analytical designs might produce a plausibly valid and interpretable effect estimate (2). We concluded that several research designs or analytical strategies by which researchers often seek to understand the etiology of racial/ethnic health disparities are inherently inadequate and have little hope of yielding valid etiologic insights. On the other hand, there are conceptualizations and uses of racial/ethnic information that do not entail these logical problems, and we note that these carefully formulated applications may provide more valid and interpretable effect estimates. Here we use the word “valid” only in the sense that a parameter estimated in the data analysis has some relation to a definable causal parameter of etiologic interest. The social utility of asking one set of questions or another or the “validity” of asking certain questions in the sense of their relation to public health values was not an issue that we addressed, and we find Dr. Jones' discussion of these broader sociologic questions to be both timely and persuasive.


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Journal Article

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American Journal of Epidemiology

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American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 154, Issue 4, 15 August 2001, Pages 291–298,


Kaufman, Jay S.
Cooper, Richard S.

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