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2005 Grant - Hawkins
Neuropsychological Norms for Elderly African-Americans
Keith A. Hawkins, Psy.D.
Yale University School of Medicine
New Haven, Connecticut
2005 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Tests of memory and thinking skills may be subject to misinterpretation because they do not sufficiently account for differences in education, literacy, and various cultural factors. This may be particularly true for standard cognitive tests given to older African-Americans.
Misinterpretations can lead to a diagnosis of dementia when the person is actually well. The unnecessary distress and risk of inappropriate treatment as a result of such a misdiagnosis may be significant. Additionally, a loss of confidence in the accuracy of cognitive testing might lead to clinicians not assessing cognitive skills. And inaccurate diagnoses might also contribute to poor data collection and analysis in research about dementia in African-American or other minority populations.
Keith Hawkins, Psy.D., aims to establish benchmark performance standards for cognitive tests used in making clinical and research diagnoses. The investi-gators will recruit 400 African-American participants, age 55 and older, who do not live in care facilities. The participants will undergo a series of currently available and novel cognitive assessment tests. The data will be used to determine the best use of standardized test batteries that meet the following criteria: (1) sensitive to persons with Alzheimer's disease, (2) office-visit friendly and (3) suitable for persons of diverse cultural and educational backgrounds. The outcome of this work may contribute to more accurate diagnostic measures in both clinical and research settings.