High quality ethnicity data has been an ongoing concern for the health and disability sector in New Zealand. While ethnicity data has been collected for a number of years, there have been variable levels of data completeness and quality. In addition, approaches to data collection across the sector have not always been co-ordinated or standardised.
In recent years, a number of initiatives and activities have been undertaken to improve the quality of ethnicity data in health sector datasets, including the development of the ethnicity data protocols for the health and disability sector (Ministry of Health 2004). In spite of progress, however, challenges remain in relation to both the quality and completeness of ethnicity data.
This paper considers what is currently known about the state of ethnicity data across the health and disability sector. It also describes key activities to improve and maintain ethnicity data in the health system in New Zealand, and identifies barriers and facilitators to the collection of ethnicity data and the maintenance of high quality datasets. It aims to summarise key issues in order to support data collection policies and practices going forward.