Mild cognitive impairment in older Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds (Forum 2011)




Harrison, Ms Fleur
Low, A/Prof Lee-Fay
Kochan, Dr Nicole
Draper, Prof Brian
Slavin, Dr Melissa
Reppermund, Dr Simone
Trollor, Professor Julian
Sachdev, Prof Perminder
Brodaty, Prof Henry


Mild cognitive impairment in older Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds Harrison F1, Low L-F1, Kochan N2,3, Draper B1,2,4, Slavin M1,2, Reppermund S2, Trollor J2,5, Sachdev P1,2,3, Brodaty H1,2,4 1 Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2 Brain and Ageing Research Program, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 3 Neuropsychiatric Institute, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW 4 Academic Department for Old Age Psychiatry, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW 5 Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW Background: Well-documented difficulties exist in screening for objective cognitive impairment among older persons from non-English speaking backgrounds. The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence and incidence over two years of MCI in participants from English-speaking backgrounds (ESB) and non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB). Methods: The sample comprised 987 non-demented community-living adults aged 70-90 years, of whom 827 were from ESB and 160 from NESB, from the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study. At baseline, participants received comprehensive English language neuropsychological and medical assessments. Questionnaires measuring functional impairment and subjective cognitive complaints (SCC) were completed by participants or informants. Assessments were repeated two years later. Results: MCI prevalence was two to three times higher in NESB participants than ESB participants. This difference resulted from higher rates of objective cognitive impairment in NESB participants; rates of functional impairment and SCC did not differ between the groups. This association between MCI prevalence and ESB status was accounted for by the proportion of time the participant spoke English and the proportion of life they had lived in Australia, not by demographic, clinical or medical factors. There were no differences between ESB and NESB groups in MCI incidence, dementia incidence or conversion from MCI to dementia. Conclusions: It was difficult to accurately diagnose MCI in participants from NESB, even when proficient in English, as classification of objective cognitive impairment may not be valid for these participants. Caution should be taken when using neuropsychological tests to assess older persons from NESB for the purpose of diagnosing MCI.