Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial minority group in the U.S and yet there is a dearth of research on their cognitive aging and risks for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). This is especially true for Vietnamese Americans, the largest Southeast Asian group in the U.S. Vietnamese Americans suffer disproportionately from early life adversity and trauma, depression, and low socioeconomic status (SES), all of which may increase risk for cognitive impairment and development of dementia. The specific sociocultural context of this group (i.e., high exposure to trauma, post-traumatic stress, diverse acculturation and immigration patterns) provides a unique opportunity to examine how early life factors and sociocultural diversity impact cognitive outcomes. In this R01 application, Vietnamese Insights into Cognitive Aging Program (VIP), we will develop an unprecedented longitudinal study of older Vietnamese Americans to begin addressing the dearth of cognitive aging research in this population. The overall goal is to obtain preliminary estimates of mild cognitive impairment and dementia in the community and identify ADRD risk and resilience factors in this understudied group. Using the NIA health disparities research framework as a model, we propose the following:
Aim 1 : Characterize longitudinal cognitive function and ADRD risk in a community-based cohort of 540 older Vietnamese aged 65+ living in Northern California.
Aim 2 a: Examine the role of adversity and trauma on ADRD risk in older Vietnamese.
Aim 2 b: Evaluate the influence of current sociocontextual factors on ADRD risk in older Vietnamese.
Aim 3 : Determine the role of cardiovascular disease and health risk factors on cognition in older Vietnamese. In the process of studying these important risk and protective factors, we will engage a population that is severely missing from aging research and contribute to theory on the role of adversity, trauma, and sociocultural diversity on dementia risk. This study will leverage an older Vietnamese population with which we already have strong community partnerships to create an unmatched longitudinal study. Findings will lead to a better understanding of cognitive aging and mechanisms of disease in this understudied group but also have broader implications for advancing our knowledge of the sociocultural and early life contributions to cognitive aging in other populations.

Public Health Relevance

As the number of Asian Americans continues to grow faster than any other racial/ethnic population in the U.S., so too will the number of those with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias; yet very little is known about their risks for cognitive impairment and dementia. This proposal will be the first to study an underserved population of Southeast Asians, Vietnamese Americans, at risk for dementia. Understanding the nuanced roles of early life adversity and trauma as well as sociocontextual diversity in a high disparity group has significant implications for understanding risk and resilience factors in all individuals.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Health Disparities and Equity Promotion Study Section (HDEP)
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Anderson, Dallas
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University of California Davis
Schools of Medicine
United States
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