Determining aspects of ethnicity amongst persons of South Asian origin: the use of a surname-classification programme (Nam Pehchan).
Macfarlane GJ., Lunt M., Palmer B., Afzal C., Silman AJ., Esmail A.
OBJECTIVE: Name-based classification systems are potentially useful in identifying study samples based on probable ethnic minority group. The aim of the current study was to assess the validity of the Nam Pehchan name classification programme of religion and language against subject self-report. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: A population-based cross-sectional survey conducted in areas of the North-West and West Midland regions of England with a relatively high density of South Asian ethnic minority groups. The sampling frame was age-sex registers of selected general practices and subjects were classified according to language and religion using the Nam Pehchan programme. These were compared with responses by subjects on a self-complete postal questionnaire. RESULTS: One thousand nine hundred and forty-nine subjects who participated, classified themselves as South Asian. Sensitivity in identifying religion was high amongst Muslims (92%) and Sikhs (86%), and somewhat lower in Hindus (62%). Specificity exceeded 95% for all ethnic groups. The vast majority of subjects assigned Punjabi or Gujarati as their main South Asian language indicated that they did in fact speak these languages (97% and 94%, respectively). Subjects assigned Urdu or Bengali, however, were less likely to do so (61% and 35%, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The name-based classification system Nam Pehchan has demonstrated high levels of accuracy in some sub-groups of the South Asian population in determining subjects likely language spoken and religion-and is likely to be a useful additional tool when information on ethnicity is not already available.