Likelihood of dementia higher among black ethnic groups

August 7, 2018, University College London

Rates of dementia diagnosis are higher among black ethnic groups compared to white and Asian groups in the UK, a new UCL-led study has found.

The study, published in Clinical Epidemiology, is the first to compare incidence of by ethnicity in any nationally representative sample.

Researchers from UCL Psychiatry and the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care analysed data from 2,511,681 people, including 66,083 who had a , from The Health Improvement Network primary care database between 2007 and 2015.

They found that the incidence of dementia diagnosis was 25% higher among black women than white women, and 28% higher among black men than white men. Asian women and men were 18% and 12% less likely than white women and men, respectively, to have a dementia diagnosis.

More research is needed to understand why people in certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop dementia. It could be that factors such as level of formal education, financial deprivation, smoking, physical activity, mental health and some mid-life health outcomes, which all affect dementia risk, differ between the groups. Other research has found that South Asian people may have a lower genetic risk of getting dementia.

"Our new findings may reflect, for example, that there are inequalities in the care people receive to prevent and treat illnesses associated with dementia," said the study's lead author, Dr. Claudia Cooper (UCL Psychiatry). "Or perhaps GPs or patients' families are reluctant to name dementia in communities where more stigma is associated with a dementia diagnosis."

The research team also compared the diagnosis rates to what could be expected in the different groups as predicted by prior research.

"What we found suggests that the rates of people receiving a diagnosis may be lower than the actual rates of dementia in certain groups, particularly among black men. It is concerning that black people appear to be more at risk of dementia but less likely to receive a timely diagnosis," added co-author Dr. Tra My Pham (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care).

The researchers say they cannot yet explain the lower dementia rates they found among people of Asian descent.

"Perhaps British Asians do have a lower risk, or they may only be less likely to be diagnosed when they develop it. Rates of timely diagnosis in the UK have been improving, but it appears that not all groups of society are benefiting equally. It's important that messages that dementia is best diagnosed early are tailored to different groups. We've previously found that people's cultural background can influence how willing or unwilling they are to seek help," said Dr. Cooper.

Wesley Dowridge, member of King's College London's Social Care Workforce Research Unit Service User and Carer Advisory Group, and study steering group member, commented: "As a black carer and one of the Windrush generation, these findings make me think about why black people I know have been reluctant to seek help for memory problems: worries about being treated fairly, or about being put in a care home. This study shows how important it is that messages about the benefits of timely dementia diagnoses reach everyone, especially people from minority who may be more at risk."

Co-author Professor Jill Manthorpe (King's College London), added that she hopes many beyond academics and clinicians will take on board the study's findings. "Family and friends, as well as professionals such as nurses and social workers, have a key role to play in explaining the potential benefits of getting a timely diagnosis and in reducing the fears of talking about dementia. Faith and community groups can also play a part in making sure local dementia services are accessible to all."

Explore further: Hospitals often missing dementia despite prior diagnosis

More information: Clinical Epidemiology, DOI: 10.2147/CLEP.S152647

Related Stories

Hospitals often missing dementia despite prior diagnosis

April 24, 2018
Hospitals in the UK are increasingly likely to recognise that a patient has dementia after they've been admitted for a different reason, finds a new UCL-led study, but it is still only recognised in under two-thirds of people.

Dementia increases the risk of 30-day readmission to the hospital after discharge

February 23, 2018
About 25 percent of older adults admitted to hospitals have dementia and are at increased risk for serious problems like in-hospital falls and delirium (the medical term for an abrupt, rapid change in mental function). As ...

Dementia could be detected via routinely collected data, new research shows

July 18, 2018
Improving dementia care through increased and timely diagnosis is an NHS priority, yet around half of those living with dementia live with the condition unaware.

Dementia sufferers more likely to be diagnosed with urinary or fecal incontinence

August 27, 2013
Patients with a diagnosis of dementia have approximately three times the rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence, and more than four times the rate of fecal incontinence, compared with those without a diagnosis of dementia, ...

TBI is associated with increased dementia risk for decades after injury

January 30, 2018
Traumatic brain injuries increase the risk of a dementia diagnosis for more than 30 years after a trauma, though the risk of dementia decreases over time, according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Anna ...

Most deprived are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia

May 16, 2018
Older adults in England with fewer financial resources are more likely to develop dementia, according to new UCL research.

Recommended for you

Hypothesis underpinning dementia research 'flawed'

October 16, 2018
A hypothesis which has been the standard way of explaining how the body develops Alzheimer's Disease for almost 30 years is flawed, according to a University of Manchester biologist.

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

Many cases of dementia may arise from non-inherited DNA 'spelling mistakes'

October 15, 2018
Only a small proportion of cases of dementia are thought to be inherited—the cause of the vast majority is unknown. Now, in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by researchers ...

Scientists create new map of brain region linked to Alzheimer's disease

October 8, 2018
Curing some of the most vexing diseases first requires navigating the world's most complex structure—the human brain. So, USC scientists have created the most detailed atlas yet of the brain's memory bank.

Previously unknown genetic aberrations found to be associated with Alzheimer's progression

October 8, 2018
In a large-scale analysis of RNA from postmortem human brain tissue, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Columbia University have identified specific RNA splicing events associated with Alzheimer's ...

Periodontal disease bacteria may kick-start Alzheimer's

October 4, 2018
Long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria causes inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons in mice that is similar to the effects of Alzheimer's disease in humans, according to a new study from researchers at ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.