Dementia literacy of racially minoritized people in a Chinese society: a qualitative study among South Asian migrants in Hong Kong

Laurence Lloyd PARIAL, Padmore Adusei AMOAH, Karrie C. H. CHAN, Daniel W. L. LAI, Angela Y. M. LEUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Research on dementia literacy in Chinese societies is still emerging, and this is especially the case among racially minoritized groups. The present study explored the knowledge, causal beliefs, and help-seeking behaviors of South Asian migrants in Hong Kong about dementia. It also investigated existing community barriers related to dementia knowledge and help-seeking.

We conducted a qualitative study from a purposive sample of 38 older people and family caregivers from India, Pakistan, and Nepal who lived in Hong Kong. Focus groups and individual in-depth interviews were used to gather information, while thematic analysis was employed to analyze the data.

Five main themes were identified: normalization with stigmatization of dementia; spiritual and psychosocial attributions of dementia; familial responsibility despite potential caregiving burden; uncertainties versus openness to professional care; and barriers and opportunities in dementia literacy. Ethnic minorities recognized dementia as a disease of normal aging or a mental disorder. They also perceived spiritual and psychosocial factors as their main causes. While participants recognized the potential burden of dementia caregiving, families were their first point of help-seeking, as many of them expressed contrasting feelings of confidence or doubt toward professional services. Utilization of health education strategies, together with collaboration with community leaders, could address the barriers to dementia literacy.

This is the first study to explore how ethnic minorities in Asia perceive dementia and its related help-seeking behaviors in their communities. South Asian migrants in Hong Kong have a limited understanding of dementia and may experience delays in obtaining relevant community services. While culture influenced their knowledge, health education may address their misperceptions and help-seeking behaviors toward dementia. Culture- and language-specific programs could also improve dementia knowledge and health service access.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalEthnicity and Health
Early online date2 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

We thank the staff of Hong Kong Christian Service – Support Ethnic Elderly with Dementia Symptoms (Project SEEDS), including Ms. Viola YK Tsang, Ms. Peggy WH Lau, and Ms. Kristy SM Cheung, for their valuable contributions in participant recruitment and providing logistical support in the data collection. We extend our thanks to our research assistants who facilitated the interview sessions and language experts who assisted in the translation.

This study was supported by the Community Chest of Hong Kong and the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University [Grant Number: P0031062].


  • dementia literacy
  • mental health
  • ethnic/racial minorities
  • South Asians
  • Culture
  • culture


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