PHONE: (313) 593-5518
DATE: September 21, 2004
UM-Dearborn study demonstrates that standard psychological
tools can be translated and revised to be reliable for testing elderly
DEARBORN---A study by a faculty member at the University of Michigan-Dearborn
and researchers at the Arab
Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) has demonstrated
that standard tools used to measure depression and dementia can be adequately
translated for use among elderly Arab Americans.
In addition to translating the tools into Arabic, the researchers modified
some cultural references that were in the original tests. The result assures
uniform testing, thus avoiding non-standardized use of the tests. The
study was conducted among a sample of nearly 200 elderly Arabs and Arab
Americans in southeastern Michigan.
The results not only prove the validity of the standard tests for depression
when translated for this population, according to UM-Dearborn psychology
Prof. Nancy Wrobel. "They also highlight the notion that even elderly
minority group members in an area which is densely populated by their
own group experience some difficulties with acculturation that may impact
their mental health."
The long-term goal of the project is to improve the identification of
dementia, depression and stress within this population through the translation
and validation of commonly used diagnostic tests, Wrobel said.
Wrobel conducted the study with Dr. Mohamed F. Farrag, a psychologist
associated with ACCESS, supported by a grant from the U.S.
Administration on Aging, administered by Wayne
County Senior Citizens' Services.
The project was completed in conjunction with The
Senior Alliance-Area Agency on Aging 1-C, which serves the elderly
in western and southern Wayne County.
Testing for depression and dementia in a particular ethnic group is a
complicated process, she noted, made difficult by cultural and language
differences. "In addition, cultural norms regarding family care of
the elderly may contribute to a failure to identify treatable problems."
"The elderly individuals in this study appeared to be experiencing
a substantial degree of stress, particularly stressed by pressures to
be competent in English and pressures to acculturate," Wrobel said.
"This suggests a high need for community intervention and support
for this population."
They tested a sample of 198 elderly Arab Americans, representing nine
different countries of origin, during 2003. The participants were recruited
from various settings in the community, including senior housing, doctors'
offices, mosques and community agencies. They ranged in age from 60 to
92, with a mean age of 69. There were 105 females and 93 males. All of
them were Arabic speakers, with varying degrees of fluency in English,
more than half reporting no English skills and fewer than 5 percent describing
themselves as fluent in English.
The results show that a majority of this group needs substantial assistance
with daily living and management of their own affairs. The data also suggest
that the number of participants with symptoms of depression was much higher
than the reported number who actually had received a diagnosis of depression
before the study was started.
As part of the study, these tests were translated from English into Arabic
by Farrag, who is a licensed psychologist with experience among both English-speaking
and Arabic-speaking populations. Then those versions were translated back
into English by another translator and examined to find discrepancies
in meaning from the original texts. All of the tests were administered
"The essential accomplishment here is the careful translation of
the existing commonly used measures into Arabic," Wrobel said.
"Secondly, this work provides a summary of the range of problems
existing in a sample of elderly minority group members in a particular
community," she said.
Contact Chris Kenzie at The Senior Alliance, (734) 722-2830, for information
regarding the study.