International Psychogeriatrics

Protocol-Only Paper

The Koori Growing Old Well Study: investigating aging and dementia in urban Aboriginal Australians

Kylie Radforda1a2a3 c1, Holly A. Macka1, Hamish Robertsona2, Brian Drapera1a2a4, Simon Chalkleya1a2a5, Gail Daylighta6, Robert Cumminga1a7, Hayley Bennetta1, Lisa Jackson Pulvera1a8 and Gerald A. Broea1a2a5

a1 Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia

a2 Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, Sydney, Australia

a3 School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

a4 School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

a5 Geriatric Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

a6 South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, Australia

a7 School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

a8 Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


Background: Dementia is an emerging health priority in Australian Aboriginal communities, but substantial gaps remain in our understanding of this issue, particularly for the large urban section of the population. In remote Aboriginal communities, high prevalence rates of dementia at relatively young ages have been reported. The current study is investigating aging, cognitive decline, and dementia in older urban/regional Aboriginal Australians.

Methods: We partnered with five Aboriginal communities across the eastern Australian state of New South Wales, to undertake a census of all Aboriginal men and women aged 60 years and over residing in these communities. This was followed by a survey of the health, well-being, and life history of all consenting participants. Participants were also screened using three cognitive instruments. Those scoring below designated cut-offs, and a 20% random sample of those scoring above (i.e. “normal” range), completed a contact person interview (with a nominated family member) and medical assessment (blind to initial screening results), which formed the basis of “gold standard” clinical consensus determinations of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Conclusion: This paper details our protocol for a population-based study in collaboration with local Aboriginal community organizations. The study will provide the first available prevalence rates for dementia and cognitive impairment in a representative sample of urban Aboriginal people, across city and rural communities, where the majority of Aboriginal Australians live. It will also contribute to improved assessment of dementia and cognitive impairment and to the understanding of social determinants of successful aging, of international significance.

(Received April 03 2013)

(Reviewed May 26 2013)

(Revised July 02 2013)

(Accepted December 10 2013)

(Online publication February 10 2014)

Key words:

  • Aboriginal health;
  • Indigenous health;
  • dementia;
  • cognitive impairment;
  • aging


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr Kylie Radford, Neuroscience Research Australia, PO Box 1165, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia. Phone: +02-9399-1269; Fax: +02-9399-1082. Email: