A call to address structural barriers to Hispanic/Latino representation in clinical trials on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias: A micro-meso-macro perspective

Alzheimers Dement (N Y). 2023 Jun 5;9(2):e12389. doi: 10.1002/trc2.12389. eCollection 2023 Apr-Jun.


Introduction: This perspective paper addresses the US Hispanic/Latino (herein, Latino) experience with regards to a significant public health concern-the underrepresentation of Latino persons in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) clinical trials. Latino individuals are at increased risk for AD/ADRD, experience higher disease burden, and low receipt of care and services. We present a novel theoretical framework-the Micro-Meso-Macro Framework for Diversifying AD/ADRD Trial Recruitment-which considers multi-level barriers and their impact on Latino trial recruitment.

Methods: Based on a review of the peer-reviewed literature and our lived experience with the Latino community, we drew from our interdisciplinary expertise in health equity and disparities research, Latino studies, social work, nursing, political economy, medicine, public health, and clinical AD/ADRD trials. We discuss factors likely to impede or accelerate Latino representation, and end with a call for action and recommendations for a bold path forward.

Results: In the 200+ clinical trials conducted with over 70,000 US Americans, Latino participants comprise a fraction of AD/ADRD trial samples. Efforts to recruit Latino participants typically address individual- and family-level factors (micro-level) such as language, cultural beliefs, knowledge of aging and memory loss, limited awareness of research, and logistical considerations. Scientific efforts to understand recruitment barriers largely remain at this level, resulting in diminished attention to upstream institutional- and policy-level barriers, where decisions around scientific policies and funding allocations are ultimately made. These structural barriers are comprised of inadequacies or misalignments in trial budgets, study protocols, workforce competencies, healthcare-related barriers, criteria for reviewing and approving clinical trial funding, criteria for disseminating findings, etiological focus and social determinants of health, among others.

Conclusion: Future scientific work should apply and test the Micro-Meso-Macro Framework for Diversifying AD/ADRD Trial Recruitment to examine structural recruitment barriers for historically underrepresented groups in AD/ADRD research and care.

Keywords: clinical trials; funding and regulatory strategies; micro‐meso‐macro framework; recruitment; underrepresented groups.