Cross-cultural differences in dementia: the Sociocultural Health Belief Model

Int Psychogeriatr. 2013 Apr;25(4):517-30. doi: 10.1017/S104161021200213X. Epub 2012 Dec 14.


Background: Many minority ethnic (ME) older adults face several culturally associated and systemic barriers to timely dementia diagnoses that may result in delays to dementia care-seeking. We aimed to develop and propose a model illustrating variables that influence dementia care-seeking among ME older adults.

Methods: We conducted a literature review on the effects of these barriers on diagnostic delays and impairment levels at initial evaluation. We also strived to provide a basis for the Sociocultural Health Belief Model (SHBM) to guide future research and service planning pertaining to culture and dementia care-seeking.

Results: There was consistent evidence that ME older adults with dementia tended to have greater diagnostic delays and higher levels of cognitive impairment and behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia at initial evaluation than their non-Hispanic White counterparts. We also found several barriers to dementia care-seeking among ME groups. These barriers included lower levels of acculturation and accurate knowledge about dementia, more culturally associated beliefs about dementia, such as the perception of memory loss as normal aging and stigma associated with dementia, and health system barriers.

Conclusions: The SHBM provides an empirically based conceptual framework for examining cross-cultural differences in dementia care-seeking among diverse groups. We provide recommendations for future research, such as the need for research with more diverse ethnic subgroups and the examination of group-specific cultural values. We conclude with a discussion of the clinical and service implications of our review, including potential interventions aimed at facilitating timely dementia diagnoses among ME older adults.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Aging / ethnology*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / ethnology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Social Stigma
  • United States