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May 1995

Hispanics in Angloland

Arch Neurol. 1995;52(5):534. doi:10.1001/archneur.1995.00540290124030

The termHispanic lacks precision. It can denote racial origin, a mother tongue, or a culture, depending on the context. The US Census Bureau defines it as a person of Spanishspeaking origin living in the United States. This has not prevented the application of the term in the medical literature to Spanish speakers in Ecuador!1

Sacco and Culebras agree on the shortcomings of the term Hispanic, but they disagree on what to do about it. Sacco would retain it for the sake of finding out more about the burden of disease of a large segment of the American people, and the comparability of data on this poorly defined population. Culebras would discard the term.

Demographers, epidemiologists, and taxonomists should get together to work out more precise terms to describe populations diverse in race, culture, and country of origin. In the meantime, if the term Hispanic is to be used