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Measurement invariance of neuropsychological tests in diverse older persons

Dan Mungas, Keith F Widaman, Bruce R Reed, Sarah Tomaszewski Farias
Neuropsychology 2011, 25 (2): 260-9
21381830

OBJECTIVE: Comparability of meaning of neuropsychological test results across ethnic, linguistic, and cultural groups is important for clinicians challenged with assessing increasing numbers of older ethnic minorities. We examined the dimensional structure of a neuropsychological test battery in linguistically and demographically diverse older adults.

METHOD: The Spanish and English Neuropsychological Assessment Scales (SENAS), developed to provide psychometrically sound measures of cognition for multiethnic and multilingual applications, was administered to a community dwelling sample of 760 Whites, 443 African Americans, 451 English-speaking Hispanics, and 882 Spanish-speaking Hispanics. Cognitive function spanned a broad range from normal to mildly impaired to demented. Multiple group confirmatory factor analysis was used to examine equivalence of the dimensional structure for the SENAS across the groups defined by language and ethnicity.

RESULTS: Covariance among 16 SENAS tests was best explained by five cognitive dimensions corresponding to episodic memory, semantic memory/language, spatial ability, attention/working memory, and verbal fluency. Multiple Group confirmatory factor analysis supported a common dimensional structure in the diverse groups. Measures of episodic memory showed the most compelling evidence of measurement equivalence across groups. Measurement equivalence was observed for most but not all measures of semantic memory/language and spatial ability. Measures of attention/working memory defined a common dimension in the different groups, but results suggest that scores are not strictly comparable across groups.

CONCLUSIONS: These results support the applicability of the SENAS for use with multiethnic and bilingual older adults, and more broadly, provide evidence of similar dimensions of cognition in the groups represented in the study.

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