The demonstration project, funded by the Scottish Executive, was prompted by previous research in the UK which shows more health problems, including higher than average death rates from heart disease, are found amongst men and women born in the Indian sub continent. Reasons for this are believed to include generally poorer socio-economic status, environmental factors, barriers to accessing health services, genetic factors and the effects of racism.

Raj Bhopal, leader of the project and Professor of Public Health at the University, explained: "Scotland has high quality databases about hospital admissions, but they do not include information about the patient's ethnic group because this information is not routinely collected. As a result, we have had no reliable information about how health and the use of health services vary between different ethnic groups.”

The research team, which included staff from the Information and Statistics Division (ISD) and the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), ran this pilot project to test different methods of making better use of existing databases.

Previous research in England has shown that heart disease is more common in some ethnic groups than others. For example, in England death rates from heart disease are 51% higher in men born in Bangladesh than among those born in England. We have found that there are similar differences in Scotland, with the incidence of heart attack being 60-70% higher compared with non-South Asians."

The report also showed many other important variations. For example, South Asians had four to five times more diabetes than non-South Asians, but quality of care for diabetics was very similar.; Source: University of Edinburgh