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Understanding ethnic diversity in open dementia neuroimaging data sets

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Heng, Nicholas Yew Wei  ORCID logo


Ethnic differences in dementia are increasingly recognized in epidemiological measures and diagnostic biomarkers. Nonetheless, ethnic diversity remains limited in many study populations. Here, we provide insights into ethnic diversity in open-access neuroimaging dementia data sets. Data sets comprising dementia populations with available data on ethnicity were included. Statistical analyses of sample and effect sizes were based on the Cochrane Handbook. Nineteen databases were included, with 17 studies of healthy groups or a combination of diagnostic groups if breakdown was unavailable and 12 of mild cognitive impairment and dementia groups. Combining all studies on dementia patients, the largest ethnic group was Caucasian (20 547 participants), with the next most common being Afro-Caribbean (1958), followed by Asian (1211). The smallest effect size detectable within the Caucasian group was 0.03, compared to Afro-Caribbean (0.1) and Asian (0.13). Our findings quantify the lack of ethnic diversity in openly available dementia data sets. More representative data would facilitate the development and validation of biomarkers relevant across ethnicities.


Funder: National Institute for Health and Care Research; DOI:

Funder: Department of Health and Social Care; DOI:


neuroimaging, ethnicity, neurodegenerative disorders, dementia

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Brain Communications

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Oxford University Press
Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR203312)