Effect of Social Determinants of Health on Brain Aging in Minoritized Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: Cristina A.F. Román, PhD


The National Multiple Sclerosis Society sponsored research fellow at Kessler Foundation talked about a research project that investigates the differences in brain structure and aging metrics among patients with multiple sclerosis from differing racial and ethnic backgrounds. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

"Publications, empirical studies have shown that research and work is better when you have diverse voices and perspectives. That's not necessarily just specific to race and ethnicity, but different backgrounds, different ways that you grew up, and gender identity. All these different things that make things so much richer, I think we could work to improve [on].”

Historically, research on multiple sclerosis (MS), a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, has been centered around White patients. The limited representation of minority patient populations in MS has important implications for the development of potential therapies and understanding the impact of social determinants of health.1 Recent research shows a strong link between social determinants of health impact and health outcomes in minority populations with MS, and thus, alleviating disparities in these patient groups has become a critical intervention target.2

Cristina A.F. Román, PhD, National Multiple Sclerosis Society sponsored research fellow at Kessler Foundation presented a talk in the Whitaker Platform session at the 2023 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting, held May 31 to June 3, in Aurora, Colorado. In her presentation at the symposia, she discussed the structure of the aging brain and health disparities among diverse patient populations of MS.3

Román sat down in an interview with NeurologyLive® at the meeting to provide a general overview of the information covered in her presentation. She talked about how social determinants of health contribute to accelerated brain aging in individuals with MS from minoritized communities. She also spoke about the steps that can be taken to promote cultural humility and address biases in MS treatment centers while providing inclusive care. In addition, Román explained how embracing diversity and including various perspectives can enhance research and improve the treatment of MS.

Click here for more coverage of CMSC 2023.

1. Moore MZ, Pérez CA, Hutton GJ, Patel H, Cuascut FX. Health Disparities in Multiple Sclerosis among Hispanic and Black Populations in the United States. Biomedicines. 2023;11(4):1227. Published 2023 Apr 20. doi:10.3390/biomedicines11041227
2. Amezcua L, Rivera VM, Vazquez TC, Baezconde-Garbanati L, Langer-Gould A. Health Disparities, Inequities, and Social Determinants of Health in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders in the US: A Review. JAMA Neurol. 2021;78(12):1515-1524. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2021.3416
3. Román C. Structural Brain Aging Among Racially/Ethnically Diverse Persons with Multiple Sclerosis: Disparities in Alzheimer’s Disease-Signature & Global Volumetric Brain Metrics. Presented at: 2023 CMSC Annual Meeting; held May 31-June 3; Aurora, CO. SYM13.
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