We adapted a battery of tests designed to measure change in cognitive function in English speakers for use with Spanish speakers. We used a consensus method of translation in order to create a Spanish version that could be used with Spanish speakers in the United States, regardless of country of origin. We then administered this battery to Spanish speaking community participants. In a factor analysis, five factors emerged which corresponded well with five hypothesized cognitive domains found in English speakers. As expected, performance in each cognitive domain was positively related to education and, with some exceptions, inversely related to age. Overall, the results suggest that the original battery and adaptation provide conceptually similar measures of cognitive functioning, thereby making the psychometric properties available for a battery that may be useful in assessing age-related change in cognitive function in older Spanish speakers.
In this study we tested the concordance between a hypothesized grouping of the individual tests and an empirically-based grouping using Rand’s statistic. The obtained value, 0.73, suggested a moderately good fit. Very similar versions of this test battery have been administered to English speakers, and factor analytically-based test groupings have been compared to the same five groups hypothesized here, using Rand’s statistic to quantify goodness-of-fit. In a cohort of older Catholic clergy members, Rand’s statistic was 0.79 [2
]. In the Rush Memory and Aging project, Rand’s statistic was 0.57 when analyzed in the first 141 participants [9
] and was 0.79 when data on more than 500 persons were analyzed [22
]. That the fit between hypothesized and obtained test groupings in this group of Spanish speaking older persons is so similar to the fits obtained in previous studies of English speakers supports the idea that the test battery is assessing the same underlying cognitive abilities in English and Spanish speakers, consistent with a previous study in which the results of an exploratory factor analysis of an adapted test battery were judged to be consistent with previous research on it in English [30
It is difficult to compare the level of cognitive performance in people of different cultural backgrounds because the influences of culture are imperfectly understood and measured. Although the association of culture with level of cognitive performance is difficult to isolate, it is probably true that cultural influences are relatively constant over time, at least for the brief temporal intervals covered in most longitudinal aging studies. As a result, change in cognitive function should be relatively free of these biases and so offers a powerful way to compare aging across ethnic subgroups. The present cross-sectional result suggests that this battery has two important features needed in cognitive test batteries to be used in comparing subgroups. The first feature is that the test battery appears to measure the same underlying constructs in English. Secondly, the constructs are measured with multiple tests, which are combined into composite measures. This method of measurement is able to reflect a much wider range of performance of the sort needed to capture change in older people of initially different ability levels. Longitudinal research will be needed to confirm the properties of this battery in a larger group of people.
This study has important limitations. The battery was tested on a small selected group of community residents, and therefore it is unlikely that the full range of cognitive activity has been represented. Due to the restricted range of education, we may have tested the lower ranges of performance, but most likely did not test the upper ranges. The majority of the participants in our study were Mexican women, and the results may not extend to other Spanish speaking populations due to cultural, linguistic and gender differences. Additionally, we did not assess other important variables, such as bilingual status, level of acculturation, country where education was completed and number of years in the United States, which might have affected results. Further research on this tests battery with a larger, more diverse group of participants is needed to more securely establish its psychometric properties.