Neuropsychological Test Performance in African-American and White Patients with Alzheimer's Disease

Welsh, Kathleen Anne; Fillenbaum, Gerda G.; Wilkinson, William E.; Heyman, Albert; Mohs, Richard C.; Stern, Yaakov; Harrell, Lindy E.; Edland, Steven D.; Beekly, Duane

Little information exists on the performance of black versus white patients with Alzheimer's disease on neuropsychological tests for dementia.In this study, we compared performance on the CERAD (Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease) neuropsychological battery between white (n equals 830) and black (n equals 158) patients with Alzheimer's disease enrolled in the CERAD study at 23 university medical centers in the United States. The black patients were older, had fewer years of formal education, and were more impaired in their activities of daily living than were the white patients. After controlling for these characteristics and for duration of the disease and severity of dementia, there were differences in the performance of black and white patients on several of the cognitive measures. Black patients scored lower than whites on tests of visual naming and constructional praxis and on the Mini-Mental State Examination. There were no statistical differences in performance on tests of fluency and word list memory. These findings suggest that cultural or experiential differences may modify performance on specific neuropsychological tests. These factors, in addition to age and educational background, should be considered when interpreting performance on neuropsychological tests in elderly black patients with dementia.


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February 23, 2018