Development of Algorithmic Dementia Ascertainment for Racial/Ethnic Disparities Research in the US Health and Retirement Study

TitleDevelopment of Algorithmic Dementia Ascertainment for Racial/Ethnic Disparities Research in the US Health and Retirement Study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsGianattasio, KZ, Ciarleglio, A, Power, MC
JournalEpidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.)
ISSN Number15315487
KeywordsDementia, Dementia algorithm, race-ethnicity

BACKGROUND: Disparities research in dementia is limited by lack of large, diverse, and representative samples with systematic dementia ascertainment. Algorithmic diagnosis of dementia offers a cost-effective alternate approach. Prior work in the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study has demonstrated that existing algorithms are ill-suited for racial/ethnic disparities work given differences in sensitivity and specificity by race/ethnicity.

METHODS: We implemented traditional and machine learning methods to identify an improved algorithm that: (1) had ≤5 percentage point difference in sensitivity and specificity across racial/ethnic groups; (2) achieved ≥80% overall accuracy across racial/ethnic groups; and (3) achieved ≥75% sensitivity and ≥90% specificity overall. Final recommendations were based on robustness, accuracy of estimated race/ethnicity-specific prevalence and prevalence ratios compared to those using in-person diagnoses, and ease of use.

RESULTS: We identified six algorithms that met our prespecified criteria. Our three recommended algorithms achieved ≤3 percentage point difference in sensitivity and ≤5 percentage point difference in specificity across racial/ethnic groups, as well as 77%-83% sensitivity, 92%-94% specificity, and 90%-92% accuracy overall in analyses designed to emulate out-of-sample performance. Pairwise prevalence ratios between non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanics estimated by application of these algorithms are within 1%-10% of prevalence ratios estimated based on in-person diagnoses.

CONCLUSIONS: We believe these algorithms will be of immense value to dementia researchers interested in racial/ethnic disparities. Our process can be replicated to allow minimally biasing algorithmic classification of dementia for other purposes.


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Citation KeyGianattasio2020126