Race and ethnicity are controversial variables in epidemiological studies. Most of the controversy comes from the misuse of these variables as risk factors and from issues concerning validity and consistency of data over time and territory. Substantial inconsistencies in the categorization of race and ethnicity can be found in the literature. For these reasons, some journals have written policies and published glossaries to better define these variables. However, revisions of criteria are often required due to the dynamics of social and demographic change, such as migrations, globalization, and other cultural movements that may change the perception of group identity.

Epidemiological studies may use race and ethnicity variables in several situations. In the sampling process, these variables may be used to determine whether the true diversity of ...

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