To investigate whether demographic (age and education) adjustments for the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) attenuate mean score discrepancies between African American and Caucasian adults, and to determine whether demographically-adjusted MMSE scores improve the diagnostic classification accuracy of dementia in African American adults when compared to unadjusted MMSE scores.
Community-dwelling adults participating in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Registry (ADPR) and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC).
Three thousand two hundred fifty-four adults (2819 Caucasian, 435 African American) aged 60 and older.
MMSE at study entry.
African American adults obtained significantly lower unadjusted MMSE scores (23.0 ± 7.4) compared to Caucasian adults (25.3 ± 5.4). This discrepancy persisted despite adjustment of MMSE scores for age and years of education using established regression weights or newly-derived weights. However, controlling for dementia severity at baseline and adjusting MMSE scores for age and quality of education attenuated this discrepancy. Among African American adults, an age- and education-adjusted MMSE cut score of 23/24 provided optimal dementia classification accuracy, but this represented only a modest improvement over an unadjusted MMSE cut score of 22/23. The posterior probability of dementia in African American adults is presented for various unadjusted MMSE cut scores and prevalence rates of dementia.
Age, dementia severity at study entry, and quality of educational experience are important explanatory factors to understand the existing discrepancies in MMSE performance between Caucasian and African American adults. Our findings support the use of unadjusted MMSE scores when screening African American elders for dementia, with an unadjusted MMSE cut score of 22/23 yielding optimal classification accuracy.
MMSE; African American; ethnicity; dementia; cognition
Accurate neuropsychological assessment of older individuals from heterogeneous backgrounds is a major challenge. Education, ethnicity, language, and age are associated with scale level differences in test scores, but item level bias might contribute to these differences. We evaluated several strategies for dealing with item and scale level demographic influences on a measure of executive abilities defined by working memory and fluency tasks. We determined the impact of differential item functioning (DIF). We compared composite scoring strategies on the basis of their relationships with volumetric MRI measures of brain structure. Participants were 791 Hispanic, White, and African American older adults. DIF had a salient impact on test scores for 9% of the sample. MRI data were available on a subset of 153 participants. Validity in comparison with structural MRI was higher after scale level adjustment for education, ethnicity/language, and gender, but item level adjustment did not have a major impact on validity. Age adjustment at the scale level had a negative impact on relationships with MRI, most likely because age adjustment removes variance related to age-associated diseases.
composite scores; item response theory; dementia; demographic-adjusted T scores; ordinal logistic regression; test bias
Little is known about the psychometric properties of depression instruments among persons infected with HIV. We analyzed data from a large sample of patients in usual care in two US cities (n=1467) using the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire from the PRIME-MD (the PHQ-9). The PHQ-9 had curvilinear scaling properties and varying levels of measurement precision along the continuum of depression measured by the instrument. In our cohort, the scale showed a prominent floor effect and a distribution of scores across depression severity levels. Three items had differential item functioning (DIF) with respect to race (African-American vs. white); two had DIF with respect to sex, and one had DIF with respect to age. There was minimal individual-level DIF impact. Twenty percent of the difference in mean depression levels between African-Americans and whites was due to DIF. While standard scores for the PHQ-9 may be appropriate for use with individual HIV-infected patients in cross-sectional settings, these results suggest that investigations of depression across groups and within patients across time may require a more sophisticated analytic framework.
This study tested the psychometric characteristics of the Body Morph Assessment version 2.0 (BMA 2.0). A sample of 563 adults composed of four groups classified by gender and ethnicity (Caucasian men and women and African-American men and women) were studied. Support for the internal consistency and test–retest reliability of the BMA 2.0 was found for both men and women. A study of convergent validity was conducted. The BMA 2.0 was found to have adequate reliability and validity. Norms were established for the BMA 2.0 estimates of current body size (CBS), ideal body size (IBS), and acceptable body size (ABS) for Caucasian and African-American men and women. In summary, the BMA 2.0 is a reliable and valid computerized measure of CBS, IBS, ABS, the CBS–IBS discrepancy (body dissatisfaction), and provides an estimate of over/underestimation of body size as compared to individuals of the same sex and body mass index.
Body image; Eating disorders; Obesity; Morph; Body image assessment
PURPOSE: To examine the prevalence of osteopenia and/or osteoporosis among African Americans with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to assess the effect of using race/ethnicity-specific normative data. METHODS: Bone mineral density (BMD) of the hip and spine was assessed in African Americans with early RA. To examine the impact of using different normative data on disease classification, we calculated two sets of T scores, the first using sex-matched reference data from Caucasians and the second using data from African Americans. Osteoporosis was defined as a BMD at either site > or =2.5 SD below the young adult mean. Osteopenia was defined as a BMD > or =1 SD and <2.5 SD below this mean. RESULTS: Using Caucasian referent data, 33% (n=48) of patients had osteopenia or worse (n=48, 32.9%) and 5% (n=8) were osteoporotic. With the use of African-American normative data, 55% (n=94) were osteopenic or worse, and 16% (n=27) were osteoporotic. CONCLUSION: African Americans with RA are at risk of osteopenia and/or osteoporosis. Different diagnostic classifications may occur in this population based solely on the normative data used for assessing fracture risk. These results underscore the need for a standardized approach in defining osteopenia and osteoporosis in African Americans.
Purpose: To examine the prevalence of osteopenia and/or osteoporosis among African Americans with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to assess the effect of using race/ethnicity-specific normative data.
Methods: Bone mineral density (BMD) of the hip and spine was assessed in African Americans with early RA. To examine the impact of using different normative data on disease classification, we calculated two sets of T scores, the first using sex-matched reference data from Caucasians and the second using data from African Americans. Osteoporosis was defined as a BMD at either site ≥2.5 SD below the young adult mean. Osteopenia was defined as a BMD ≥1 SD and <2.5 SD below this mean.
Results: Using Caucasian referent data, 33% (n=48) of patients had osteopenia or worse (n=48, 32.9%) and 5% (n=8) were osteoporotic. With the use of African-American normative data, 55% (n=94) were osteopenic or worse, and 16% (n=27) were osteoporotic.
Conclusion: African Americans with RA are at risk of osteopenia and/or osteoporosis. Different diagnostic classifications may occur in this population based solely on the normative data used for assessing fracture risk. These results underscore the need for a standardized approach in defining osteopenia and osteoporosis in African Americans.
osteoporosis; osteopenia; African Americans; DXA; rheumatoid arthritis
Differential item functioning (DIF) assesses the consistency of items on a metric across clinical samples in relation to the attribute being measured. We hypothesized that in older adults with persistent pain, items of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) would evidence DIF based on presence or intensity of pain.
Unidimensionality was determined by factor and item analyses. DIF was tested using Rasch Modeling. We then evaluated the psychometric properties of a revised GDS (GDS-PAIN), comprised of items that did not evidence DIF.
Patient and Settings
A total of 677 community dwelling older adults (age 65–91) participating in observational or treatment studies of low back or knee pain who endorsed at least moderate pain for at least 3 months. A total of 201 pain-free controls were included in the analysis.
Ten of the 30 items displayed significant DIF. These items were: 1) dropping activities and interests; 2) bothered by persistent thoughts; 3) often get fidgety and restless; 4) prefer to stay home; 5) do not feel full of energy; 6) do not enjoy getting up in the morning; 7) mind is not as clear as it was, 8) feel life is empty; 9) feel more problems with memory; and 10) do not find life very exciting. The modified GDS-PAIN scale did not adversely affect the psychometric properties of the scale.
The performance of the GDS is affected by pain. When unstable items are removed, the revised GDS (GDS-PAIN) appears to be psychometrically stable and maintains both internal consistency and similar correlation values with a measure of pain as the original scale.
Depression; Geriatric; Chronic Pain; Measurement
BACKGROUND: Pooled data from double-blind, placebo-controlled studies were utilized to compare the safety and efficacy of duloxetine in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) in African-American and Caucasian patients. METHODS: Efficacy and safety data were pooled from seven double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of duloxetine. Patients (aged > or =18 years) meeting DSM-IV criteria for MDD received duloxetine (40-120 mg/day; African Americans, N=69; Caucasians, N=748) or placebo (African Americans, N=59; Caucasians, N=594) for up to nine weeks. Efficacy measures included the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD17) total score, the Clinical Global Impression of Severity (CGI-S) and Patient Global Impression of Improvement (PGI-I) scales, and Visual Analog Scales (VAS) for pain. Safety was assessed using discontinuation rates, spontaneously reported treatment-emergent adverse events, vital signs and laboratory analyses, RESULTS: Based upon mean changes in HAMD17, CGI-S and PGI-I scales, the magnitude of duloxetine's treatment effects did not differ significantly between African-American and Caucasian patients. Discontinuation rates due to adverse events among duloxetine-treated patients were 13.0% for African Americans and 17.0% for Caucasians. No adverse event led to discontinuation in more than one African-American patient. The most common treatment-emergent adverse events in both ethnic groups included nausea, headache, constipation, dizziness and insomnia. The rate of occurrence of these events did not differ significantly between African-American and Caucasian patients. Mean changes from baseline for pulse, blood pressure, weight and laboratory analytes were small and showed no significant differences between African-American and Caucasian patients. CONCLUSION: In this analysis of data from seven clinical trials, no convincing evidence was found to suggest that the overall safety and tolerability profile or the efficacy profile for duloxetine in this cohort of African-American patients differed from that observed in a comparator group of Caucasian patients. The results from these analyses provide supportive evidence for the efficacy and safety of duloxetine in the treatment of MDD in African-American patients.
To determine structural brain correlates of naming abilities in older adults, we tested 24 individuals aged 56 to 79 on two confrontation-naming tests (the Boston Naming Test (BNT) and the Action Naming Test (ANT)), then collected from these individuals structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) data. Overall, several regions showed that greater gray and white matter volume/integrity measures were associated with better task performance. Left peri-Sylvian language regions and their right-hemisphere counterparts, plus left mid-frontal gyrus correlated with accuracy and/or negatively with response time (RT) on the naming tests. Fractional anisotropy maps derived from DTI showed robust positive correlations with ANT accuracy bilaterally in the temporal lobe and in right middle frontal lobe, as well as negative correlations with BNT RT, bilaterally, in the white matter within middle and inferior temporal lobes. We conclude that those older adults with relatively better naming skills can rely on right-hemisphere peri-Sylvian and mid-frontal regions and pathways, in conjunction with left-hemisphere peri-Sylvian and mid-frontal regions, to achieve their success.
Abbreviated neuropsychological protocols are increasingly utilized secondary to time-constraints within research and healthcare settings, yet normative data for these abbreviated instruments are lacking. We present geriatric performances and normative data for the Boston Naming Test 30-item even verion (BNT-30). Data were utilized from the BU-ADCC registry (n = 441, ages 55-98) and included 219 normal controls (NC), 155 participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 67 participants with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The NC group (M = 28.7, SD = 1.8) significantly outperformed both MCI (M = 26.2, SD = 4.4) and AD (M = 22.1, SD = 4.8) groups, and the MCI group outperformed the AD group. Normative data generated for the NC participants revealed a significant between-group difference for sex (males M = 29.1, SD = 1.7; females M = 28.4, SD = 1.8) and race (White M = 28.8, SD = 1.7; African American M = 27.5, SD = 2.1). The racial disparity remained even after adjusting for education level (p = .002) and literacy (p < .001). ANOVAs for the NC group were non-significant for age but significant for education level (p = .001). Geriatric normative data therefore suggest that sex, race, and education are all associated with naming performance, and these variables should be taken into consideration when interpreting geriatric BNT-30 performance.
Alzheimer’s disease; Boston Naming Test; geriatrics; language; lexical retrieval; mild cognitive impairment; neuropsychological measures; normative data
Accurate assessment of racial disparities in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) depends on measurement that is equally valid for all groups. This study examines differences among African American and white children in ADHD measurement with a widely used parental report instrument, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC).
Data come from 1070 children in the Fast Track Project, a longitudinal study of predominantly low-income children at risk of emotional and/or behavioral problems. Item Response Theory (IRT) methodology is used to determine whether ADHD screening items provide comparable information for African American and white children or whether differential item function (DIF) exists. IRT scores and race/ethnicity are entered in logistic regression models predicting use of ADHD medication.
Seven of 39 DISC items performed differently among African Americans and whites. In most cases, parents of white children were more likely to endorse these items than were parents of African American children at comparable underlying levels of children’s hyperactivity. When items exhibiting differential functioning were deleted, race disparities predicting underlying need as indicated by ADHD medication use decreased and were no longer statistically significant.
Perceptions of ADHD-related symptoms among parents of African American children appear to differ in important ways from those of parents of white children, and screening instruments relying on parent report may yield different results for African American and white children with similar underlying treatment needs. Gathering information from additional sources including teachers and school counselors can provide a more complete picture of the behavioral functioning and therapeutic needs of children in all race/ethnic groups.
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; screening tests; disparities; African Americans; children’s mental health
Purpose: We examined race/ethnicity and cultural context within hypothetical end-of-life medical decision scenarios and its influence on patient–proxy agreement. Design and Methods: Family dyads consisting of an older adult and 1 family member, typically an adult child, responded to questions regarding the older adult’s preferences for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, artificial feeding and fluids, and palliative care in hypothetical illness scenarios. The responses of 34 Caucasian dyads and 30 African American dyads were compared to determine the extent to which family members could accurately predict the treatment preferences of their older relative. Results: We found higher treatment preference agreement among African American dyads compared with Caucasian dyads when considering overall raw difference scores (i.e., overtreatment errors can compensate for undertreatment errors). Prior advance care planning moderated the effect such that lower levels of advance care planning predicted undertreatment errors among African American proxies and overtreatment errors among Caucasian proxies. In contrast, no racial/ethnic differences in treatment preference agreement were found within absolute difference scores (i.e., total error, regardless of the direction of error). Implications: This project is one of the first to examine the mediators and moderators of dyadic racial/cultural differences in treatment preference agreement for end-of-life care in hypothetical illness scenarios. Future studies should use mixed method approaches to explore underlying factors for racial differences in patient–proxy agreement as a basis for developing culturally sensitive interventions to reduce racial disparities in end-of-life care options.
End-of-life decision making; Race/ethnicity; Culture
To evaluate the equivalence of the PROMIS® wave 1 physical functioning item bank, by age (50 years or older versus 18-49).
Materials and methods
A total of 114 physical functioning items with 5 response choices were administered to English- (n=1504) and Spanish-language (n=640) adults. Item frequencies, means and standard deviations, item-scale correlations, and internal consistency reliability were estimated. Differential Item Functioning (DIF) by age was evaluated.
Thirty of the 114 items were fagged for DIF based on an R-squared of 0.02 or above criterion. The expected total score was higher for those respondents who were 18-49 than those who were 50 or older.
Those who were 50 years or older versus 18-49 years old with the same level of physical functioning responded differently to 30 of the 114 items in the PROMIS® physical functioning item bank. This study yields essential information about the equivalence of the physical functioning items in older versus younger individuals.
Survey Research; Physical function; Item Response Theory (IRT); Differential Item Functioning (DIF)
The authors examined the impact of race/ethnicity on responses to the Everyday Discrimination Scale, one of the most widely used discrimination scales in epidemiologic and public health research. Participants were 3,295 middle-aged US women (African-American, Caucasian, Chinese, Hispanic, and Japanese) from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) baseline examination (1996–1997). Multiple-indicator, multiple-cause models were used to examine differential item functioning (DIF) on the Everyday Discrimination Scale by race/ethnicity. After adjustment for age, education, and language of interview, meaningful DIF was observed for 3 (out of 10) items: “receiving poorer service in restaurants or stores,” “being treated as if you are dishonest,” and “being treated with less courtesy than other people” (all P's < 0.001). Consequently, the “profile” of everyday discrimination differed slightly for women of different racial/ethnic groups, with certain “public” experiences appearing to have more salience for African-American and Chinese women and “dishonesty” having more salience for racial/ethnic minority women overall. “Courtesy” appeared to have more salience for Hispanic women only in comparison with African-American women. Findings suggest that the Everyday Discrimination Scale could potentially be used across racial/ethnic groups as originally intended. However, researchers should use caution with items that demonstrated DIF.
African Americans; Asian Americans; bias (epidemiology); European continental ancestry group; Hispanic Americans; prejudice; psychometrics; questionnaires
Use of normative data stratified by education may result in misclassification of African American older adults because reading ability, an estimate of educational attainment, is lower than reported years of education for some African American elders. This study examined the contribution of reading ability versus education to neuropsychological test performance in 86 community-dwelling African American elders ages 56–91 with 8–18 years of education. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that reading ability, but not education, was significantly associated with performances on the Trail Making Test, Controlled Oral Word Association Test, Animal Naming, Digit Span, and the Stroop test. Reading ability was not significantly related to performances on measures of memory. Medium to large effect sizes (Cohen's d = 0.58–1.41) were found when comparing mean performances on neuropsychological measures in groups with low versus high reading scores. Results indicate that reading ability contributes beyond educational attainment to performances on some neuropsychological measures among African American elders. These findings have implications for reducing misclassification among minority populations through the use of appropriate normative data.
Assessment; Elderly; Geriatrics; Aging; Norms; Normative studies
This study examined how age and education influence the relationship between neuropsychological test scores and brain structure in demographically diverse older adults spanning the range from normal cognition to dementia. A sample of 351 African Americans, 410 Hispanics, and 458 Caucasians received neuropsychological testing; volumetric MRI measures of total brain, white matter hyperintensity, and hippocampus were available for 79 African Americans, 102 Hispanics, and 134 Caucasians. Latent variable modeling was used to examine effects of age, education, and brain volumes on test scores and determine how much variance brain volumes explained in unadjusted and age and education adjusted scores. Age adjustment resulted in weaker relationships of test scores with MRI variables and adjustment for ethnicity yielded stronger relationships. Education adjustment increased relationships with MRI in the combined sample and in Hispanics, made no difference in Caucasians, but decreased some associations in African Americans. Results suggest that demographic adjustment is beneficial when demographic variables are strongly related to test scores independent of measures of brain structure, but adjustment has negative consequences when effects of demographic characteristics are mediated by brain structure.
Neuropsychological tests; ethnicity; brain structure; age; education; structural MRI
The Dementia Rating Scale (DRS) is a widely used measure of global cognition, with age- and education-corrected norms derived from a cross-sectional sample of adults participating in Mayo's Older Americans Normative Studies (MOANS). In recent years, however, studies have indicated that cross-sectional normative samples of older adults represent an admixture of individuals who are indeed cognitively normal (i.e., disease-free) and individuals with incipient neurodegenerative disease. Theoretically, the “contamination” of cross-sectional normative samples with cases of preclinical dementia can lead to underestimation of the test mean and overestimation of the variance, thus reducing the clinical utility of the norms. Robust norming, in which dementia cases are removed from the normative cohort through longitudinal follow-up, is an alternative approach to norm development. The current study presents a reappraisal of the original MOANS DRS norms, provides robust and expanded norms based on a sample of 894 adults age 55 and over, and critically evaluates the benefits of robust norming.
Dementia Rating Scale; DRS; Alzheimer's disease; Robust; Norms
Differential item functioning (DIF) occurs when a test item has different statistical properties in subgroups, controlling for the underlying ability measured by the test. DIF assessment is necessary when evaluating measurement bias in tests used across different language groups. However, other factors such as educational attainment can differ across language groups, and DIF due to these other factors may also exist. How to conduct DIF analyses in the presence of multiple, correlated factors remains largely unexplored. This study assessed DIF related to Spanish versus English language in a 44-item object naming test. Data come from a community-based sample of 1,755 Spanish- and English-speaking older adults. We compared simultaneous accounting, a new strategy for handling differences in educational attainment across language groups, with existing methods. Compared to other methods, simultaneously accounting for language- and education-related DIF yielded salient differences in some object naming scores, particularly for Spanish speakers with at least 9 years of education. Accounting for factors that vary across language groups can be important when assessing language DIF. The use of simultaneous accounting will be relevant to other cross-cultural studies in cognition and in other fields, including health-related quality of life.
cognitive testing; item response theory; logistic regression; test bias; translation
For the Low Vision Quality Of Life questionnaire (LVQOL) it is unknown whether the psychometric properties are satisfactory when an item response theory (IRT) perspective is considered. This study evaluates some essential psychometric properties of the LVQOL questionnaire in an IRT model, and investigates differential item functioning (DIF).
Cross-sectional data were used from an observational study among visually-impaired patients (n = 296). Calibration was performed for every dimension of the LVQOL in the graded response model. Item goodness-of-fit was assessed with the S-X2-test. DIF was assessed on relevant background variables (i.e. age, gender, visual acuity, eye condition, rehabilitation type and administration type) with likelihood-ratio tests for DIF. The magnitude of DIF was interpreted by assessing the largest difference in expected scores between subgroups. Measurement precision was assessed by presenting test information curves; reliability with the index of subject separation.
All items of the LVQOL dimensions fitted the model. There was significant DIF on several items. For two items the maximum difference between expected scores exceeded one point, and DIF was found on multiple relevant background variables. Item 1 'Vision in general' from the "Adjustment" dimension and item 24 'Using tools' from the "Reading and fine work" dimension were removed. Test information was highest for the "Reading and fine work" dimension. Indices for subject separation ranged from 0.83 to 0.94.
The items of the LVQOL showed satisfactory item fit to the graded response model; however, two items were removed because of DIF. The adapted LVQOL with 21 items is DIF-free and therefore seems highly appropriate for use in heterogeneous populations of visually impaired patients.
Visual impairment; Vision-related quality of life; Item response theory; Graded response model; Differential item functioning
Compared to published norms, African Americans endorse significantly more items intended to assess pathological anxiety about contamination on self-report instruments for obsessive-compulsive disorder. The current study suggests this is not due to greater psychopathology in African Americans, but rather to differences in normal attitudes about cleanliness that also influence responses to items intended to assess anxiety pathology. Contamination items from OCD scales including the Padua Inventory (Behav Res Ther. 26:2 (1988) 169) were supplemented with cleanliness attitude items and administered to Black and White participants (N=1483). An exploratory factor analysis suggested a three-factor solution: one factor that encompassed pathological anxiety, and two that expressed attitudes about cleanliness, grooming, and domestic animals. African Americans scored significantly higher on all three factors. A confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated that the difference between Black and White participants on the pathological anxiety factor was eliminated when differences on the attitude factors were controlled statistically.
factor analysis; assessment; obsessive-compulsive disorder; ethnic differences; contamination; anxiety; attitudes
The objectives of this study were to describe the levels of daily spiritual experiences in community-dwelling older adults, to compare levels of spiritual experiences with levels of prayer and religious service attendance, and to examine demographic and psychosocial correlates of spiritual experiences.
The data came from 6,534 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, an ongoing population-based, biracial (65% African American) study of risk factors for incident Alzheimer’s disease among older adults. A five-item version of the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) was used in the study. Multivariable linear regression models were used to examine the relationship between sociodemographic and psychosocial factors and DSES scores.
The majority of participants reported having spiritual experiences at least daily. In the bivariate analyses, African Americans and women had higher DSES scores than Whites and men, respectively (p’s < 0.001). Prayer and worship were moderately associated with DSES scores. In the multivariable analyses, African American race, older age, female gender, better self-rated health, and greater social networks were associated with higher DSES scores, while higher levels of education and depressive symptoms were associated with lower DSES scores.
We observed high levels of spiritual experiences and found that the DSES is related to, but distinct from traditional measures of religiosity. We found associations between DSES, demographic, and psychosocial factors that are consistent with findings for other R/S measures. Future research should test whether daily spiritual experiences contribute to our understanding of the relationship between R/S and health in older adults.
religiosity; spirituality; psychosocial correlates; race/ethnicity
Previous research suggests that lack of knowledge of hospice is a barrier to the use of hospice care by African Americans. However, there is little data examining racial differences in exposure to hospice information.
Examine racial differences in self-reported exposure to hospice information and determine how this exposure impacts beliefs about hospice care.
We surveyed 200 community-dwelling older adults (65 or older). We used Spearman's correlations to examine the relationship between responses to individual items on the Hospice Beliefs and Attitudes Scale (HBAS) and self-reported exposure to hospice information (never heard of hospice, heard a little, or heard a lot). We used multivariate analyses to examine predictors of exposure to hospice information and beliefs about hospice care (total score on HBAS).
Compared to whites (n = 95), African Americans (n = 105) reported significantly less exposure to hospice information (p = 0.0004). Nineteen percent of African Americans and 4% of whites had never heard of hospice; 47.6% of African Americans and 71.6% of whites had heard a lot about hospice. In multivariate analysis controlling for demographics and health status, African Americans had a two times higher odds of reporting that they had never heard of hospice or heard only a little about hospice versus heard a lot about hospice (odds ratio [OR] = 2.24 [1.17, 4.27]. Greater exposure to hospice information was associated with more favorable beliefs about hospice care (outcome: total score on HBAS; parameter estimate 1.34, standard error 0.44, p = 002).
African Americans reported less exposure to information about hospice than whites. Greater exposure to hospice information was associated with more favorable beliefs about some aspects of hospice care. Because knowledge is power, educational programs targeting older African Americans are needed to dispel myths about hospice and to provide minorities with the tools to make informed choices about end-of-life care.
The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) is one of the most widely used self-rated mood questionnaires for older adults. It is highly correlated with clinical diagnoses of depression and has demonstrated validity across different patient populations. However, the reliability of the GDS among African American older adults remains to be firmly established. In a baseline sample of 401 African American adults age 51 and over, the GDS-15 item short form demonstrates good internal consistency (KR20=.71). Stability over a 15-month interval in a retest sample of 51 adults is deemed adequate (r=.68). These findings support the use of the GDS-15 item short form as a reliable mood questionnaire among African American older adults.
Geriatric depression scale; GDS; Depression; African American; Reliability
A model is presented to predict the readability of documents encountered by older adults. The documents studied are contained in the Educational Testing Service’s Test of Basic Skills (1977 edition) and require readers to answer questions about charts (e.g., bus schedules), labels (e.g., plant spray labels and prescriptions), and forms (e.g., tax forms). The components of the model came from theoretical and empirical work on discourse processing and include such factors as discourse structure, emphasis, and position of an answer in a linguistic analysis of the everyday document.
A sample of 482 adults from 52 to 93 years of age took the everyday problems test as well as a psychometric ability battery. The correlation was .54 (p < .01) between the readability scores for test items predicted by the model and the percentage of older adults correctly answering those items. In addition, the more difficult test items as identified by the model were correlated more highly with fluid intelligence abilities (figural relations and induction), crystallized intelligence abilities (vocabulary, experiential evaluation), and with memory span.
Language has been extensively investigated by functional neuroimaging studies. However, only a limited number of structural neuroimaging studies have examined the relationship between language performance and brain structure in healthy adults, and the number is even less in older adults. The present study sought to investigate correlations between grey matter volumes and three standardized language tests in late life. The participants were 344 non-demented, community-dwelling adults aged 70-90 years, who were drawn from the population-based Sydney Memory and Ageing Study. The three language tests included the Controlled Oral Word Association Task (COWAT), Category Fluency (CF), and Boston Naming Test (BNT). Correlation analyses between voxel-wise GM volumes and language tests showed distinctive GM correlation patterns for each language test. The GM correlates were located in the right frontal and left temporal lobes for COWAT, in the left frontal and temporal lobes for CF, and in bilateral temporal lobes for BNT. Our findings largely corresponded to the neural substrates of language tasks revealed in fMRI studies, and we also observed a less hemispheric asymmetry in the GM correlates of the language tests. Furthermore, we divided the participants into two age groups (70-79 and 80-90 years old), and then examined the correlations between structural laterality indices and language performance for each group. A trend toward significant difference in the correlations was found between the two age groups, with stronger correlations in the group of 70-79 years old than those in the group of 80-90 years old. This difference might suggest a further decline of language lateralization in different stages of late life.