The broad objective of the proposed research is to evaluate the effectiveness of a community-tailored health communication tool in increasing dementia literacy among low-income Latinos. Latino families significantly delay seeking medical help when a cognitive problem is evident, and have less knowledge of dementia than European Americans. Early diagnosis when dementia and other cognitive problems are suspected can afford timely treatment of reversible conditions, slow the progression of certain diseases, and give families time to make major life plans. To address this problem, this project will test the value of a community- tailored Fotonovela (a popular graphic novel format among Spanish-speaking populations) as a health education tool. A series of two studies is proposed that aim to 1) survey and identify low-income Latinos'general knowledge, cultural idioms, and perceptions of dementia, and 2) test a fotonovela as an effective health communication tool, information included in the Fotonovela will rectify common myths regarding dementia symptoms and treatment learned through focus groups. A structured script will be designed and then followed by a bilingual Latino facilitator in asking focus groups what they know and believe about dementia. Group members will be recruited from community organizations and clinics serving low-income Latinos in the Los Angeles region, including those already familiar with dementia and those with no prior exposure to dementia. The groups will also be administered a standard Alzheimer's disease knowledge test (ADKS-S). The second part of the study constitutes a field test to determine whether the Fotonovela will effectively educate Latino men and women about dementia. Participants will be randomized to three conditions: Fotonovela developed by our research team;standard dementia information brochure;and wait- list control group. At pre-, post-, and one-month follow-up, participants will be given a short survey (available in English and Spanish) covering knowledge important for Latino families such as risk factors, symptoms, treatment, and effects of dementia. Results of the focus groups will include demographics and ADKS-S scores, and a thematic content analysis of qualitative data to identify emerging themes in dementia perceptions. In the evaluation phase, a repeated measures analysis of variance will determine which group improved more favorably on the survey.

Public Health Relevance

The eventual public health relevance is (a) to increase early assessment of potential symptoms of dementia among Latinos so that dementia treatment might be started sooner and lead to improved quality of life for the dementia patient and reduced family burden, and (b) improve individual health habits that might eventually lower risk for dementia onset.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-K (29))
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Silverberg, Nina B
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University of Southern California
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Los Angeles
United States
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