The Prevalence of Cognitive Impairment among People Attending a Homeless Service in Far North Queensland with a Majority Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander People
Paul White, Clare Townsend, Ali Lakhani, Jennifer Cullen, Jason Bishara, Alan White
To establish the point prevalence of cognitive impairment among a representative group of homeless people in Cairns. The sample included a large number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.
This research was conducted among an opportunistic sample of participants residing in a homeless shelter. An interview administered cross‐sectional survey was conducted with 60 participants over 12 weeks. The Kimberly Indigenous Cognitive Assessment (KICA‐Cog) and a clinical diagnosis by a psychiatrist (using DSM‐V criteria) were used to establish cognitive impairment. The 36‐item version of the World Health Organisation Disability Assessment Survey 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0) was employed to ascertain limitations in daily living activities.
Seventy‐five percent of participants were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Thirty‐five percent of the sample had a cognitive impairment based on the KICA‐cog while over 70% of the sample had a cognitive impairment based on clinical criteria. Being screened for dementia or global cognitive impairment according to the KICA‐Cog was significantly correlated with having greater difficulty across the following WHODAS domains: understanding or communicating, self‐care, and life activities.
Many people who are homeless have a cognitive impairment and this impairment impacts their ability to participate in society. A shift in practice is necessary to support homeless populations with a high proportion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. It is important that culturally appropriate methods—focusing on cognitive health—are employed to support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are homeless.