Neurological Sciences

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 857–859 | Cite as

Migrants seeking help for cognitive disturbances: exploratory data from an Italian memory clinic

  • Marco CanevelliEmail author
  • Valerio Zaccaria
  • Ciro Ruocco
  • Martina Valletta
  • Marina Gasparini
  • Nicola Vanacore
  • Matteo Cesari
  • Giuseppe Bruno
Brief Communication



The phenomenon of dementia occurring in migrants and minority groups constitutes an emerging issue for Western countries. Nevertheless, it has been poorly explored from the perspective of “real-world” clinical services. We aimed to quantify the number of migrants from LMIC attending an Italian university memory clinic and to document its modifications over time.


All the subjects undergoing a first neurological and cognitive assessment between 2001 and 2017 were considered for the present analyses.


The proportion of subjects from LMIC performing a first cognitive evaluation was found to remain substantially stable between 2001 and 2017. No statistically significant difference was found between “HIC” and “LMIC” individuals with regard to sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.


These findings seem to indicate that cognitive disorders in LMIC migrants still constitute a marginal public health issues for Italian dementia services. Nevertheless, the identification of eventual sociocultural and healthcare barriers may help to understand the real magnitude and relevance of this phenomenon.


Dementia Cognitive disorders Migrants Health disparities Cross-cultural Developing countries 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Marco Canevelli is supported by a research grant of the Italian Ministry of Health (GR-2016-02364975) for the project “Dementia in immigrants and ethnic minorities living in Italy: clinical-epidemiological aspects and public health perspectives” (ImmiDem).

Matteo Cesari has received honoraria for presentations at scientific meetings and/or research funding from Nestlé and Pfizer. He is involved in the coordination of an Innovative Medicines Initiative-funded project (including partners from the European Federation Pharmaceutical Industries and Associates (Sanofi, Novartis, Servier, GSK, Lilly)). The other authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Ethical approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

The present study did not require formal ethical approval. Data used in the present analyses were exclusively, retrospectively retrieved from medical charts where information was recorded as part of the standard clinical routine. Participating subjects (or legal guardians when necessary) provided their written informed consent for allowing the utilization of the collected data for research purposes (as required by the ethical committee of the “Policlinico Umberto I” university hospital of Rome).


  1. 1.
    Nielsen TR, Vogel A, Riepe MW, de Mendonça A, Rodriguez G, Nobili F, Gade A, Waldemar G (2011) Assessment of dementia in ethnic minority patients in Europe: a European Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium survey. Int Psychogeriatr 23(1):86–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kenning C, Daker-White G, Blakemore A, Panagioti M, Waheed W (2017) Barriers and facilitators in accessing dementia care by ethnic minority groups: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies. BMC Psychiatry 17(1):316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nielsen TR, Vogel A, Phung TKT, Gade A, Waldemar G (2011) Over- and under-diagnosis of dementia in ethnic minorities: a nationwide register-based study. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 26(11):1128–1135Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ardila A (2005) Cultural values underlying psychometric cognitive testing. Neuropsychol Rev 15(4):185–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cooper C, Tandy AR, Balamurali TBS, Livingston G (2010) A systematic review and meta-analysis of ethnic differences in use of dementia treatment, care, and research. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 18(3):193–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Stevnsborg L, Jensen-Dahm C, Nielsen TR, Gasse C, Waldemar G (2016) Inequalities in access to treatment and care for patients with dementia and immigrant background: a Danish Nationwide Study. J Alzheimers Dis 54(2):505–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Diaz E, Kumar BN, Engedal K (2015) Immigrant patients with dementia and memory impairment in primary health care in Norway: a national registry study. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 39(5–6):321–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    World Bank Open Data | Data [Internet]. [cited 2018 May 4]. Available from:
  9. 9.
    Canevelli M, Lacorte E, Cova I, Zaccaria V, Valletta M, Agabiti N, Bruno G, Bargagli AM, Pomati S, Pantoni L, Vanacore N (2018) Estimating dementia cases in the immigrant population living in Italy. Neurol Sci 39(10):1775–1778CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Segers K, Benoit F, Colson C, Kovac V, Nury D, Vanderaspoilden V (2013) Pioneers in migration, pioneering in dementia: first generation immigrants in a European metropolitan memory clinic. Acta Neurol Belg 113(4):435–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Fondazione Società Italiana di Neurologia 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Neuroscience“Sapienza” UniversityRomeItaly
  2. 2.National Center for Disease Prevention and Health PromotionNational Institute of HealthRomeItaly
  3. 3.Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore PoliclinicoMilanItaly
  4. 4.Geriatric Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences and Community HealthUniversity of MilanMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations