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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Psychedelic Outcomes: Interaction of Environment, Self-Identity and Success (POIESIS)

Psychedelics are being studied in combination with psychotherapy for the treatment of major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders. Although the early results of such trials are promising, the current development approach for these interventions may increase existing inequalities for mental healthcare access across demographic groups.

Psychedelic clinical trials have struggled to enroll subjects from minority populations historically targeted by biased enforcement of drug laws and unethical research protocols. Eliminating this disparity early in the development cycle is critical. The setting in which psychedelic compounds are dosed has been demonstrated to be an essential component of the intervention, so current dosing environments have largely been shown to promote therapeutic success for the disproportionately white subject population that has been enrolled in trials to date.

This study aims to quantify how perceptions of the psychedelic study room environment are modified by racial and ethnic self-identity, and determine whether culturally-adaptive art selection and training protocols enhance recruitment and experience of minority participants.

These aims will be achieved through administration of surveys to both research subjects and community partners representing a demographically diverse group of stakeholders, as well as through cultural competency training and incorporation of subject-controlled adaptive art displays into upcoming trials. Little previous research has quantified the interaction between self-identity and psychedelic research environment, and none has explicitly focused on individualized, subject-controlled interventions to improve outcome equity for underrepresented groups. Ultimately, this research will identify adaptive setting protocols to improve recruitment and retention of minority populations in psychedelic trials and treatment.


Cody Wenthur, assistant professor of pharmacy


Olayinka Shiyanbola, associate professor of pharmacy

Alberto Vargas, associate director of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program

Paul Hutson, professor of pharmacy

Christopher Nicholas, assistant professor of family medicine and community health

Randall Brown, associate professor of family medicine and community health