Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Janet R. Hankin


A substantial body of literature suggests that cognitive impairment disproportionately affects African Americans. To date, research has uncovered disturbing racial disparities associated with the prevalence of cognitive impairment and dementia and found prevalence rates of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to be higher among African Americans (Potter et al., 2009). Furthermore, a 2002 report from the Alzheimer’s Association described AD in the African American community as an “emerging public health crisis”. This dissertation examined the impact of socioeconomic status (SES) on knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) associated with the promotion of cognitive health among a sample of 120 African American women aged 65 and older. Knowledge pertains to knowledge about AD risk and protective factors, and concern and susceptibility to AD. Attitudes pertain to attitudes about the importance and ability to maintain cognitive health. Practices pertain to engagement in physical activities and brain training exercises linked to optimal cognitive health. Based on the Theory of Fundamental Causes, the study postulated a positive relationship between SES, as measured by education level and income, and KAP on subjective cognitive health. Specifically, the study hypothesized that high SES individuals will have greater knowledge about cognitive decline, more positive attitudes about maintaining their cognitive health, and will be more likely to participate in activities that promote cognitive health relative to low SES individuals. The KAP domains were measured using existing validated scales adapted for the study. Factor analyses were conducted to create KAP scales and subscales. Regression analyses were conducted and all models controlled for age and marital status. Models for SES and KAP indicated that: (1) age is negatively associated with knowledge about protective and risk factors for AD, (2) age is negatively associated with attitudes about cognitive decline, (3) income is negatively associated with barriers to healthy eating, (4) age and income were predictive of engagement in physical activity and (5) marital status and education were predictive of engagement in brain training exercise. While SES was not a significant predictor in the models for SES, KAP and subjective cognitive health, findings indicates that concern and susceptibility to AD; healthy eating practices, and physical activity are predictors of subjective cognitive health.