Can mild cognitive impairment be accurately diagnosed in English speakers from linguistic minorities? results from the Sydney memory and ageing study

Lee Fay Low*, Fleur Harrison, Nicole A. Kochan, Brian Draper, Melissa J. Slavin, Simone Reppermund, Perminder S. Sachdev, Henry Brodaty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this article was to examine the prevalence and incidence over 2 years of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in English speakers from linguistic minorities. DESIGN: Cross-sectional and longitudinal with 2-year follow-up. SETTING: Eastern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Eight hundred twenty-seven community-dwelling participants from English-speaking backgrounds (ESB) and 160 participants from non-English-speaking backgrounds (NESB) recruited through the electoral roll. MEASUREMENTS: Participants were assessed using 11 neuropsychological tests measuring memory, language, attention/processing speed, and executive function. Questionnaires measuring functional impairment and subjective cognitive complaints were completed by participants or informants. RESULTS: We found a two- to threefold higher prevalence of MCI in NESB participants than ESB participants depending on the impairment criterion applied. This difference was because of higher rates of objective cognitive impairment in NESB participants; rates of functional impairment and subjective cognitive complaints did not differ between the groups. This association between MCI prevalence and NESB status was accounted for by the proportion of time the participant spoke English and the proportion of life they had lived in Australia, but not by age, gender, and education. There were no differences between NESB and ESB groups in MCI incidence, dementia incidence, or rates of conversion from MCI to dementia. NESB participants had lower rates of reversion from MCI to normal. CONCLUSIONS: It is difficult to accurately diagnose MCI in persons from linguistic minority groups, even when proficient in English as neuropsychological test scores may not be valid for these groups. English language ability and level of acculturation should be considered when assessing older persons from ethnic minority groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)866-877
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume20
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • diagnostic criteria
  • linguistic minority
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • non-English-speaking background

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