Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Lang, Rosalyn

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a public health crisis in the African American (AA) community, as evidenced by both increased prevalence and familial risk among African Americans. African Americans are two times as likely to suffer with this disease, are diagnosed later in the disease process, and are considered to have less factual information about AD when compared to their white counterparts. Late diagnosis has been associated with significantly higher dementia-related morbidity and health care costs. Moreover, studies have shown that patients with increased health literacy have better health outcomes. Therefore, we want to assess how well African Americans understand Alzheimer’s disease with the long-term goal of improving health outcomes and decreasing prevalence of AD in the African American community. We designed a novel AD literacy survey instrument to assess knowledge, perception, and attitudes about AD in both caregivers and non caregivers in an AA cohort. The target population was African American adults with or without knowledge of Alzheimer’s. We selected a convenience sample of adults to complete the survey at several different community events and on a university campus in the Southeastern United States. We found that many of our African American participants were aware of how Alzheimer’s disease may affect lifestyle. However, we found decreased knowledge with more critical questions as: Is there a drug cure for the disease, and is AD considered normal memory loss. African Americans (37.3%, and 66% respectively) answered these questions incorrectly or responded that they were unsure of the correct answer, indicating a literacy deficit in these areas of AD knowledge. This study found evidence that confirms the need for more outreach in the African American community to further increase AD literacy.

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