Populations become more and more multiethnic, and have growing groups with minority ethnic backgrounds, such as South Asians in the UK. For everyone to receive equal levels of access to dementia services, many things still need to be done (Giebel et al., 2015b).
One way to help people from ethnic minorities get diagnosed in the first place is to understand their perceptions of the condition (dementia) better (Giebel et al., 2015a; Mukadam et al., 2011a). Another way is to improve their assessment.
In this blog, I am going to look at how possibly the assessment of memory problems in dementia can be tailored to multiethnic populations. For this, I am looking at a systematic review and meta-analysis of the Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale (RUDAS) (PDF) by Naqvi and colleagues (2015).
The RUDAS is a purposefully developed tool for multiethnic populations. Its six items can be administered within less than 10 minutes. Examples are recalling four shopping items or naming as many animals as possible within one minute.
- The first aim of the researchers was to evaluate whether studies support the strong psychometric properties of the RUDAS.
- Their second aim was to evaluate how the RUDAS compares to the Mini-Mental State Examination, a frequently used tool to assess cognition in dementia.
For this review and meta-analysis, the authors searched several databases for any studies assessing the RUDAS. Two independent reviewers found 148 studies, of which 8 were line with the first aim, and 9 addressed aim number two.
Overall, the studies evaluating the RUDAS showed it had:
- Pooled sensitivity 77.2% (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 67.4 to 84.5)
- Pooled specificity of 85.9% (95% CI 74.8 to 92.6)
- Positive likelihood ratio of 5.5 (95% CI 2.9 to 10.7)
- Negative likelihood ratio of 0.27 (95% CI 0.17 to 0.40)
This means that the RUDAS is a good tool to rule in or out dementia, and is particularly good with immigrant populations.
Moreover, the RUDAS was similar to the MMSE, with a pooled estimate of the correlation between the two tools of 0.77 (95% CI 0.72 to 0.81). The RUDAS was also less affected by language and education level than the MMSE.
There were few limitations to this review. One of the advantages of the review is the clear need to recognise and diagnose dementia better in ethnic minority groups, so that this review addresses an important topic also in recent policy (http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=1583&pageNumber=2).
One limitation is the limited evidence on test-retest reliability. But also, given the sheer number of ethnic minority groups, most evaluated studies have used different groups, so that the results are not necessarily replicating those of one particular minority group. However, this is also a benefit, as the evidence shows that the RUDAS is beneficial in many ethnic minority groups.
- In summary, the RUDAS is a good tool to assess cognition in dementia in multiethnic populations
- It is particularly beneficial to the dementia assessment in that the RUDAS is freely available, whereas the MMSE has to be purchased
- However, with an abundance of good diagnostic tools available, it becomes difficult to chose which one to use
- It would be interesting to see how well the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (an equally short test of cognition) fairs in comparison with the RUDAS
Naqvi, RM, Haider, S, Tomlinson, G, & Alibhai, S. (2015). Cognitive assessments in multicultural pupolations using the Rowlands Universal Dementia Assessment Scale: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CMAJ, doi: 10.1503 [Abstract]
Giebel, C.M., Jolley, D., Zubair, M., Bhui, K.S., Challis, D., Worden, A., & Purandare, N. (2015b). Adaptation of the Bart’s Explanatory Model Inventory to Dementia Understanding in South Asian Ethnic Minorities. Aging Ment Health, DOI:10.1080/13607863.2015.1031637
Giebel, C.M., Zubair, M., Jolley, D., Bhui, K., Purandare, N., Worden, A., & Challis, D. (2015a). South Asian Older Adults with Memory Impairment: Improving Assessment and Access to Dementia Care. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 30(4), 345-356. [PubMed abstract]
Mukadam, N., Cooper, C., Basit, B., & Livingston, G. (2011). Why do ethnic elders present later to UK dementia services? A qualitative study. International Psychogeriatrics, 23, 1070–1077. [PubMed abstract]