To combat racism and provide health care that improves health equity, we must understand the ethnicity of the population we serve. Evidence from a survey of Canadian family practice patients in Toronto show that Canadians are not uncomfortable to be asked about their race and ethnicity at their family practice. The question wording used in this survey is shown below. It is important that ethnicity questions are self administered, not administered by clinic staff as bias can be introduced. These questions refer to how the individual identifies, not their ancestry.
Here is an example of a question as part of a self-administrated sociodemographic questionnaire distributed to family practice patients (Response groups match current statistics Canada population survey groups).
Which of the following best describes your racial or ethnic group?
- First Nations
- Latin American
- South Asian (Eg East Indian Pakistani, Sri Lankan etc)
- South East Asian (eg Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian, Laotian etc)
- West Asian (E.g. Iranian, Afghani etc)
- Indigenous or Aboriginal not included elsewhere
- Other, please list
- Prefer not to answer
- Do not know