Communication about Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Research with American Indians and Alaska Natives

Primary author: Amanda Boyd
Co-author(s): Alyssa Mayeda; Clemma Muller; Meghan Jernigan; Dedra Buchwald

Primary college/unit: Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
Campus: Pullman


Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) affect 5 million Americans 65 years of age or older. The number of people in the US with ADRD is expected to increase to 14 million by 2050 unless preventive interventions and effective treatments are developed. Despite advances in ADRD research among non-Hispanic Whites, little is known about ADRD prevalence and risk factors for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people, partly due to their low participation in ADRD research. To increase research participation, it is important to understand how best to communicate about ADRD with AI/ANs. In 2018, we conducted a cross-sectional health needs assessment survey of AI/AN adults attending the SeaFair Indian Days Powwow (n=221) in Seattle, Washington and the Gathering at the Falls Powwow (n=108) in Spokane, Washington. The survey included questions about their attitudes towards research participation, preferences for communication about ADRD. Among the 329 respondents, 34% had seen, heard, or read about ADRD during the past year, 38% would consider participating in a research program designed to test a medical treatment for ADRD, and 76% thought it was important for AI/ANs to participate in research programs to test medical treatments. We discuss factors that may contribute to and enhance ADRD research participation and improve communication about ADRD and its risk factors. Further study is needed to determine whether incorporating culturally relevant risk messaging would improve communication about ADRD, improve awareness, or increases AI/AN participation in ADRD research.