Age and gender but not common chronic illnesses predict odor identification in older African Americans

Keith A. Hawkins, Godfrey D. Pearlson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Scopus citations


    Objectives: Loss of smell accompanies specific neurodegenerative diseases and may facilitate the early detection of these. Smell deficiency also engenders safety risks in the elderly. The Brief Smell Identification Test (BSIT), though clinically practical, is accompanied by limited normative data, and none for minority subjects. We sought to improve the clinical utility of the BSIT by determining the relationship between test score, demographics, and chronic illnesses in a minority cohort. Design: We evaluated BSIT performance in a cohort of cognitively healthy older African Americans and compared our findings with all existing data for the test. Setting: General community. Participants: African Americans (N = 288) age 55-87 years living independently. Main Outcome Measure: BSIT score stratified by demographic predictors. Results: Age and gender were predictive of score, but education, global cognition, hypertension, diabetes, and thyroid disorder were not significantly related to performance within this cognitively healthy sample. Comparison of our findings with international studies suggests reasonably consistent performance levels across diverse samples. Conclusions: The lack of a significant relationship between common chronic conditions, or sociocultural factors, with the BSIT score underscores the value of this test in screening for odor identification deficiencies in older subjects.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)777-782
    Number of pages6
    JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
    Issue number9
    StatePublished - Sep 2011


    • Cognitive aging
    • Odor identification

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geriatrics and Gerontology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health


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