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How Inequity Creates Barriers to Cognitive Care for Women of Color

Black women, especially those 65+, are at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. And sadly, they face many barriers in getting care.


Cognitive care is no exception to the racial imbalances Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American individuals experience in healthcare.

It is a well known fact that two-thirds of the American population living with Alzheimer’s are women, irrespective of race. Yet, they have also been historically underrepresented in clinical trials and face more barriers to accessing treatment and care.

Furthermore, Black and Hispanic Americans have also been underrepresented in clinical trials. According to the National Institute on Aging, Black Americans are twice as likely as White Americans to develop Alzheimer’s or another dementia in their lifetime. However, they are also 35% less likely to receive a diagnosis.

A study from the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) tells us that 19% of Black and 14% of Hispanic older adults have Alzheimer’s. A big leap from 10% of White Americans with the same diagnosis.

At greatest risk, yet most excluded

So, if women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s, and Black and Hispanic Americans are at greater risk than White Americans, where does this leave people who sit at the intersection of these groups?

Studies have shown that Black Women, especially those over the age of 65, are at a significantly higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s. And sadly, there are many barriers they face before accessing the care they need.

Throughout history women have been underrepresented in clinical trials. This is beginning to change as the inclusion of women has risen over time. The US Food and Drug Administration Drug Trials Snapshots shows that the percentage of women included in trials has risen from 40% to 72% within the last 6 years. 

While sex and race are noted in clinical trials, the intersection between these two identities is typically left out. 

The recruitment of Black Americans in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease remains chronically low, with only 2.4% of enrolled individuals identifying as black. There are several factors to consider when examining why Black Americans have such low participation in clinical trials.

First and foremost, there is a remarkable mistrust of clinical trials among Black Americans. 62% of Black Americans believe that medical research does not favor them. 69% of Black Americans are afraid of being guinea pigs. 45% of Black Americans worry about falling sick from testing new treatments

This skepticism stems from a long history of exclusion, discrimination, or even mistreatment of Black Americans in clinical trials. The Tuskegee syphilis study is a prime example.

Promoting inclusivity starts with better screening

Healthcare cannot be fully accessible without also being inclusive. At Neurotrack, we proudly support health equity and inclusion with our 3-Minute Cognitive Screening designed to be agnostic to race, language, and education level. Our tool has been tested among diverse groups and can easily be self-administered with minimal medical oversight.

Neurotrack aims to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s and other dementias by arming primary care teams with screening tools to catch cognitive impairment early, in every population.