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Cognitive impairment in racially/ethnically diverse older adults: Accounting for sources of diagnostic bias

The Kaiser Healthy Aging and Diverse Life Experiences (KHANDLE) study enrolled Asian, Black, Latino, and White adults ages 65+ without prior dementia diagnosis (N = 1709). We evaluated the prevalence of cognitive impairment (mild cognitive impairment or dementia) accounting for potential biases. A random subgroup (N = 541) received clinical evaluation and others were evaluated if they failed a cognitive screen. Diagnoses were made under two conditions: (1) demographics-blind, based on clinical exam and demographically adjusted neuropsychological test scores; and (2) all available information (clinical exam, demographics, and adjusted and unadjusted test scores). Cognitive impairment prevalence was 28% for blinded-adjusted diagnosis and 25% using all available information. Black participants had higher impairment rates than White (both conditions) and Latino (blinded-adjusted diagnosis) participants. Incomplete assessments negatively biased prevalence estimates for White participants. Racial/ethnic disparities in cognitive impairment were amplified by attrition bias in White participants but were unaffected by type of test norms and diagnosticians’ knowledge of demographics.

Authors: Mungas, Dan; Shaw, Crystal; Hayes-Larson, Eleanor; DeCarli, Charles; Farias, Sarah Tomaszewski; Olichney, John; Saucedo, Hector Hernandez; Gilsanz, Paola; Glymour, M Maria; Whitmer, Rachel A; Mayeda, Elizabeth Rose

Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2021;13(1):e12265. Epub 2021-12-31.

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