Background: This paper aims to compare the classification of race/skin color based on the discrete categories used by the Demographic Census of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and a skin color scale with values ranging from 1 (lighter skin) to 10 (darker skin), examining whether choosing one alternative or the other can influence measures of self-evaluation of health status, health care service utilization and discrimination in the health services. Methods. This is a cross-sectional study based on data from the World Health Survey carried out in Brazil in 2003 with a sample of 5000 individuals older than 18 years. Similarities between the two classifications were evaluated by means of correspondence analysis. The effect of the two classifications on health outcomes was tested through logistic regression models for each sex, using age, educational level and ownership of consumer goods as covariables. Results: Both measures of race/skin color represent the same race/skin color construct. The results show a tendency among Brazilians to classify their skin color in shades closer to the center of the color gradient. Women tend to classify their race/skin color as a little lighter than men in the skin color scale, an effect not observed when IBGE categories are used. With regard to health and health care utilization, race/skin color was not relevant in explaining any of them, regardless of the race/skin color classification. Lack of money and social class were the most prevalent reasons for discrimination in healthcare reported in the survey, suggesting that in Brazil the discussion about discrimination in the health care must not be restricted to racial discrimination and should also consider class-based discrimination. The study shows that the differences of the two classifications of race/skin color are small. However, the interval scale measure appeared to increase the freedom of choice of the respondent. © 2011Travassos et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Travassos, C., Laguardia, J., Marques, P. M., Mota, J. C., & Szwarcwald, C. L. (2011). Comparison between two race/skin color classifications in relation to health-related outcomes in Brazil. International Journal for Equity in Health, 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-9276-10-35