Adaptation of Western measures of cognition for assessing 5-year-old semi-urban Ugandan children

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The majority of available psychometric tests originates from the Western World and was designed to suit the culture, language, and socio-economic status of the respective populations. Few tests have been validated in the developing world despite the growing interest in examining effects of biological and environmental factors on cognitive functioning of children in this setting.


The present study aimed at translating and adapting Western measures of working memory, general cognitive ability, attention, executive function, and motor ability in order to obtain a cognitive instrument suitable for assessing 5-year-old semi-urban Ugandan children. This population represents a particular assessment challenge as school enrolment is highly variable at this age in this setting and many children are unused to a formal educational setting.


Measures of the above domains were selected, translated, and modified to suit the local culture, education, and socio-economic background of the target population.


The measures were piloted and then administered to semi-urban Ugandan children aged 4;6–5;6, who included children who had started and not yet started school.


Analysis of validity and reliability characteristics showed that 8 (at least one from each domain) out of the 11 measures were successfully adapted on the basis that they showed adequate task comprehension, optimum levels of difficulty to demonstrate individual and group differences in abilities, sensitivity to effects of age and education, and good internal as well as test–retest reliability.


Translation and adaptation are realistic and worthwhile strategies for obtaining valid and reliable cognitive measures in a resource-limited setting.

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