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    “Race of People Given Alzheimer’s Blood Tests May Affect Interpretation of Results” by Tamara Bhandari

    Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
    The Robert G. Fenley Writing Awards: News Releases - Bronze

    This release describes a study published in the journal Neurology investigating whether diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s disease are equally accurate at detecting early signs of disease in people of different racial backgrounds. The researchers suspected that differences between White and African American communities — in terms of who develops Alzheimer’s disease, at what age, and how quickly the disease progresses — could influence the performance of diagnostic tests. They found that three of the four tests evaluated did indeed perform differently, a finding that underscores the need for diverse study populations and highlights an underappreciated route by which racial disparities in health emerge.

    What was the most impactful part of your entry?
    I think the most impactful part of this entry was it showed not only how a health disparity can arise, without anyone necessarily intending it to, but also what can be done to avoid creating such disparities and to detect and fix them when they do arise.

    What challenge did you overcome?
    The biggest challenge was figuring out how to express nuanced findings on a sensitive subject in an accurate and unbiased way, while accounting for the fact that the story would be read by people who already had complex preconceived notions related to race and racial disparities in health. I overcame that challenge by working closely with the researchers to refine the language and by including extensive information to put the study and its findings in context.

    Tamara Bhandari