Cultural Diversity and Views on Alzheimer Disease in Older African Americans

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Cultural constructs prevalent in older African Americans may influence their risk perceptions and knowledge of Alzheimer disease (AD). To examine this issue, we administered 3 sociocultural scales, the AD Knowledge Scale, and a Risk Perception questionnaire to 271 older African Americans who were recruited from a large community senior center and local churches. Higher Present Time Orientation was significantly related to perceptions of having little control over risks to health (P=0.004), God’s Will in determining AD (P=0.001), and lower AD knowledge (P<0.0001) and marginally related to having little control over developing AD (P=0.052). Religiosity was marginally related to having little control over risks to health (P=0.055) and getting AD (P=0.057). Post hoc intergroup comparisons found significant differences in the highest versus lowest scoring Religiosity groups. There were no significant differences by Future Time Orientation. Most subjects (57.6%) were unaware that African Americans were at higher risk for AD than whites. These data indicate that cultural diversity within older African Americans may shape health perceptions and knowledge of AD. This diversity may contribute to disparities in the detection and treatment of AD in this high-risk population.

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