African Americans are at significantly increased risk for the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD), yet are seriously underrepresented in research trials. Preliminary experiences on a large scale, multi-site, 5-year longitudinal trial investigating the psychometric expression and progression of AD targeting an aging Southern rural cohort of African Americans are reported. Sixty-five participants, ranging from asymptomatic to severely demented, underwent extensive individual diagnostic and psychometric evaluation. Results indicated that cultural factors strongly influenced the data. Recruitment with asymptomatic volunteers were found to have greater educational attainment than other participant groups. Psychomotor measures showed greater impairment in African Americans compared to Caucasians suggesting increased cerebrovascular burden. African Americans' performance on the Boston Naming Test and the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading tests were significantly different than performance of Caucasian groups. The findings demonstrated that a better understanding of sociocultural factors associated with AD in the African American population may facilitate the development of primary and secondary preventions, especially when considering the role of cerebrovascular comorbidity which is a modifiable risk factor.

Author notes

R. Joglekar, MD & C. Ogle, LPN, Hospital Medicine Consultants, 819 North Fant St., Anderson, SC, 29621; R. Rubey, MD, Ralph H. Johnson VA, 109 Bee St., Charleston, SC, 29401; M. Stuckey, RN & F. Davis, LPN, Alzheimer's Research and Clinical Programs, Medical University of South Carolina, 5900 Core Rd., N. Charleston, SC, 29406; V. Hirth, MD, L. Sherriff, RN, CCRC, R. Angle, BS, & T. Tocharoen, BS, Senior Primary Care Practice, Palmetto Health Alliance, University of South Carolina, 9 Medical Park Dr., Columbia, SC, 29203; J. Evans, MD & F. Shupe, RN, ACNP, Comprehensive Neurological Services, 436 W. Palmetto St., Florence, SC, 295402; A. Memmon, MD, B. Whitney, MD, & P. Horne, RN, Regional Senior Health, 118 Dillon Dr., Spartanburg, SC, 29307; M. Ebeling, RA & T. Hulsey, MSPH, ScD, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Epidemiology, Medical University of South Carolina; and S. Cannon, Center on Aging, Medical University of South Carolina, 26 Bee St., Charleston, SC, 29425.