Language Barrier Means Millions Of Elderly Can't Access Alzheimer's Trials

 Getting people of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds into clinical trials is not only a question of equity, doctors say. It's also a scientific imperative to make sure candidate drugs work and are safe in a broad cross-section of people.   Richard Bailey/Getty Images

Getting people of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds into clinical trials is not only a question of equity, doctors say. It's also a scientific imperative to make sure candidate drugs work and are safe in a broad cross-section of people.

Richard Bailey/Getty Images

Dr. Benjamin Sommers, who studies health policy for vulnerable populations at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says the problem goes beyond clinical trials and affects diagnosing as well. He recently had trouble arranging for neuropsychological testing to diagnose a Spanish-speaking patient who did not speak English fluently.

The language barrier is a "real issue for mental health disparities," says Sommers, who is also a primary care physician at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.

Read more on NPR.