Prevalence of dementia in population groups by protected characteristics: a systematic review of the literature

This literature review published by Public Health England examines evidence on how the prevalence of dementia varies with different characteristics, such as ethnicity, gender and religion.

Download Prevalence of dementia in population groups by protected characteristics: a systematic review of the literature

The review builds on previous work by the Department of Health and considers scientific papers and those published by voluntary sector organisations.

The review examines evidence on how the prevalence of dementia varies with the following characteristics:

  • socio-economic position
  • race or ethnic group
  • religion or belief
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • disability

Key findings include:

  • Dementia was more common in people from African-American, black-Caribbean or Hispanic background. There was no information published on people from south-east Asian backgrounds.
  • Dementia is more common in women. There was no information to help understand if religion or sexual orientation changed the prevalence of dementia. Learning disability and lower socio-economic position both increased the prevalence.
  • Risk factors known to increase dementia (diabetes, stroke and depression) also increase dementia in groups with increased prevalence, and education remains protective against dementia.

Key recommendations for future research include:

  • In some groups people do not always appear to be diagnosed with dementia when they have it. Research should focus on the causes of this and how to increase the diagnosis of dementia.
  • Specific research is needed to understand how common dementia is in people from a south-east Asian background in the UK. Research is needed to investigate the exact impact of the known risk factors (depression, diabetes and stroke) across the protected characteristics, as this will help organise and target services.

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