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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2009 Apr-Jun;23(2):110-6. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0b013e318192e94d.

Racial differences in knowledge and beliefs about Alzheimer disease.

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Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 109 Observatory Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA.


Alzheimer disease (AD) is a growing public health problem that disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities, including African Americans. Given that the perceptions of illness can influence response to treatment options and coping with disease burden, we examined differences between African Americans and whites with regard to their attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge about AD. A total of 301 participants (mean age = 57 y; 80% female; 47% African American) were surveyed by telephone, with overrepresentation of caregivers and first-degree relatives of people with AD (62% of sample). After controlling for potentially confounding covariates, the 2 groups differed in terms of the following: (1) their knowledge about the disease (eg, recognizing that AD is not a part of normal aging); (2) concern about AD (eg, worry about developing the disease); (3) beliefs about putative causes of AD (eg, stress); and 4) beliefs about the effectiveness of various options for reducing risk of and treating AD (eg, physical activity). Findings suggest that AD outreach and education efforts may do well to take into account divergent illness perceptions across racial and ethnic groups. Further research is needed to confirm these findings in more representative samples and to identify factors that explain these racial differences.

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