Neuropsychological diagnostics in Ethiopia - challenges and chances among considerations regarding differential diagnosis (literature overview)

  • C Steinboeck
  • A Negash
  • M Tesfaye
  • H Steinboeck
Keywords: Cognition, Culture-fair, Ethiopian, Low-Income, Neuropsychology, Psychiatry


Background Neuropsychological tests can provide crucial information regarding the consideration of psychiatric differential diagnosis. This is especially important in developing countries like Ethiopia where advanced imaging is not widely available.
Methods A detailed literature search was conducted using the search engines Pubmed, Science Direct, Web of Science and Google Scholar from February 2013 until May 2014. Selecting the identified studies pragmatically depending on the content, twenty-six studies were included.
Results The administration of tests developed in Western-European settings to the African culture presents enormous challenge. Among these are especially the influence of low level of literacy, familiarity with the testing material, cultural aspects regarding social behavior and sense of time, cultural differences regarding cognitive functions and lack of norms. At the same time, there are opportunities for different fields of application, especially when considering the diagnosis of dementia and in the assessment of frontal lobe lesions. Assessment of cognitive flexibility appears to be an important way to differentiate between affective disorders and schizophrenia.
Conclusions In conclusion, we suggest a „basic set of neuropsychological tests“ for application in psychiatric facilities in low income countries like Ethiopia, which mostly includes nonverbal tests. By using these tests, some of the challenges found during the literature search can be overcome. Additionally, they might provide extra information for diagnostic issues. However, they might have to be adapted to the Ethiopian culture.

Key words: Cognition; Culture-fair; Ethiopian; Low-Income; Neuropsychology; Psychiatry


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1015-8618
print ISSN: 1992-2647