"People like numbers": a descriptive study of cognitive assessment methods in clinical practice for Aboriginal Australians in the Northern Territory

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Date
2013-01-31
Authors
Dingwall, Kylie M
Pinkerton, Jennifer
Lindeman, Melissa
Journal Title
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Volume Title
Publisher
BioMed Central Ltd.
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Abstract
Achieving culturally fair assessments of cognitive functioning for Aboriginal people is difficult due to a scarcity of appropriately validated tools for use with this group. As a result, some Aboriginal people with cognitive impairments may lack fair and equitable access to services. The objective of this study was to examine current clinical practice in the Northern Territory regarding cognitive assessment for Aboriginal people thereby providing some guidance for clinicians new to this practice setting. Conclusions Cognitive tests developed specifically for Aboriginal people are urgently needed. In the absence of appropriate, validated tests, clinicians have relied on and modified a range of standardised and informal assessments, whilst recognising the severe limitations of these. Past clinical training has not prepared clinicians adequately for assessing Aboriginal clients, and experience and clinical judgment were considered crucial for fair interpretation of test scores. Interpretation guidelines may assist inexperienced clinicians to consider whether they are achieving fair assessments of cognition for Aboriginal clients.
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Keywords
Public health, Aboriginal peoples, Australia
Citation
Dingwall, K.M., Pinkerton, J. and Lindeman, M., 2013. "People like numbers": a descriptive study of cognitive assessment methods in clinical practice for Aboriginal Australians in the Northern Territory. BMC Psychiatry, 13:42.