Rewriting the Script: The Need for Effective Education to Address Racial Disparities in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Uptake in BIPOC Communities

Christi Sullivan

Applied Biostatistics (CER)

Saydra Wilson, MD; Logan Caola, MS; Anita Randolph, PhD

Carrie Henning-Smith

Neuromodulation, URM


Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an FDA approved treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). Little research exists on the attitudes, knowledge, stigma surrounding TMS in black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities. Previous survey work showed that there is no difference in willingness to seek TMS between white and non-white communities but cited lack of scientific evidence as a main barrier1. But real-world uptake rates of TMS show a clear underrepresentation of BIPOC individuals in TMS utilization in the 15 years post approval2

This research examines attitudes towards TMS in BIPOC communities. A series of focus groups with non-white individuals living with MDD were conducted (n=17). Participants completed a baseline knowledge and perception survey and provided demographic information. Each focus group then watched a short educational video about TMS. A facilitator lead the focus group asking questions about their views and perceptions of TMS after viewing the video. A post-focus group knowledge and perception survey was completed by participants.

Initial results show similar themes from previous research. Results show willingness to try TMS, but lack of knowledge is a barrier. Participants wanted a video with more specific health information over a roleplay formatted video. While knowledge of TMS did not significantly increase post intervention, willingness to travel for treatment increased (p=0.047). More effective education that emphasizes health information is needed for better informed healthcare decision-making.

  1. Cabrera LY, Miller MMC, Achtyes ED, McCright AM, Bluhm R. Jumping through the hoops: Barriers and other ethical concerns regarding the use of psychiatric electroceutical interventions. Psychiatry Res. 2022 Jul;313:114612. 
  2. Sullivan CRP, Cooper DC, McCright A, Hackman D, Widge A, Wilson S, Cabrera LY (2023), Racial Disparities in rTMS Research Participation and Clinical Access in the United States”, Psychiatric Research, (under review)
Christi Sullivan research day poster

View Poster (PDF)

© 2015 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy Statement