Advancing MS Care for Minority Populations Using the VISIBL-MS Bilingual Framework: Jaime Imitola, MD


The chief of the Division of MS and Neuroimmunology at UConn Health talked about the unevenly distributed progress in multiple sclerosis care, impacting minority populations who often face worse disease outcomes. [WATCH TIME: 6 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 6 minutes

"By increasing self-agency in patients and raising awareness of early red flags and warning signs of MS, we can improve the number of patients who seek timely medical care."

Early detection in multiple sclerosis (MS) is important in the age of disease modifying therapies (DMT) and improved diagnostic criteria. Research shows that there is a lack of public awareness about MS, which results in delays of DMT initiation. This negatively impacts demographics with increased risk of severe disease burden and increased health disparities, including the African American and Hispanic patient population.

Tools such as BE-FAST are effective for educating patients, families, and medical students about the early signs of stroke. Recently, investigators conducted a systematic review to determine the use of educational tools and mnemonics in MS education. After consulting with culturally competent bilingual physicians and patients, researchers then designed a mnemonic called VISIBL-MS to encompass early signs of MS for medical students, general neurologists, and the population at large. This bilingual framework, which offers directions in English and Spanish, provides a novel structure for MS-specific awareness that addresses the interconnection between language, culture, health literacy, and health outcomes.1

This framework was presented at the 2024 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting, held April 13-18, in Denver, Colorado, by senior author Jaime Imitola, MD, chief of the Division of MS and Neuroimmunology at UConn Health. Imitol sat down with NeurologyLive® at the meeting to discuss steps that can be taken to increase awareness and understanding of MS among minority populations. He also spoke about how medical students and healthcare providers can be better equipped to support patients with the disease. Additionally, Imitola, who also serves as a professor of neurology, genetics and genome sciences, and neuroscience at University of Connecticut, talked about the main challenges in delivering equitable MS care to African American and Hispanic patients.

Click here for more coverage of AAN 2024.

1. Patel S, Rafferty S, Aquino L, et al. VISIBL-MS: A Bilingual Educational Tool to Increase Awareness of Early Multiple Sclerosis in Diverse Populations. Presented at: 2024 AAN Annual Meeting; April 13-18; Denver, CO.
2. Patel S, Rafferty S, Aquino L, et al. VISIBL-MS: A bilingual educational framework to increase awareness of early multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2024;30(4-5):585-593. doi:10.1177/13524585241228739
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