Differences in pain treatment can be summed up as follows:
A white man walks into a doctor’s office complaining about pain. He leaves the office with a prescription for pain medicine. Possibly Oxycontin.
A white woman walks into a doctor’s office complaining about pain. She leaves the office with a prescription for anti-depressants. Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Viibryd. And possibly Abilify added on if the complaints continue.
A person of color, pick a gender, walks into a doctor’s office complaining about pain. That person of color leaves the office with nothing.
Green, C., & Hart-Johnson, T. The Adequacy of Chronic Pain Management Prior to Presenting at a Tertiary Care Pain Center: The Role of Patient Socio-Demographic Characteristics. The Journal of Pain, 11.8 [August 2010]: 746–754.
In several clinical vignette studies, women and minorities received lesser quality pain care for acute, chronic, and cancer pain when presenting with similar pain problems than men….These and our current findings provide support for differences in pain-care quality. Although no racial differences in analgesic prescribing adequacy were found, we did identify differences in analgesic prescribing adequacy by gender. The gender gap was widest among younger patients and diminished as they approached age 50, suggesting younger women are at risk for lesser quality pain care.
Kposowa, A., & Tsunokai, G. Searching for relief: racial differences in treatment
of patients with back pain. Race & Society, 5 (2002): 193–223.
Results provide evidence to suggest that there are substantial racial/ethnic disparities in the likelihood of obtaining prescriptions for back pain in the United States. African American male patients were significantly less likely to receive pain medications than White male patients. African American and Hispanic male patients were considerably less likely than their White counterparts to receive prescribed pain medications. These results persisted even after controlling for the potentially confounding effects of pain intensity and source of payment. In addition, African American and Hispanic patients presenting with back pain received fewer medications on average than White patients .
Mossey, J. Defining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pain Management. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 469:7 (Jul 2011), 1859-1870. Link.
Pain Management and Prescription Drugs. Common Sense for Drug Policy, DrugWarFacts.org.
20. (Undertreatment of Pain More Common Among African-American Patients Than Whites) “Undertreatment of pain among African Americans has been well documented. For example, children with sickle-cell anemia (a painful disease that occurs most often among African Americans) who presented to hospital emergency departments (EDs) with pain were far less likely to have their pain assessed than were children with long-bone fractures (Zempsky et al., 2011).
“In general, moreover, a number of studies have shown that physicians tend to prescribe less analgesic medication for African Americans than for whites (Bernabei et al., 1998; Edwards et al., 2001; Green and Hart-Johnson, 2010). A study that used a pain management index to evaluate pain control found that blacks were less likely than whites to obtain prescriptions for adequate pain relief, based on reported pain severity and the strength of analgesics provided. Because such an index is a way to quantify a person’s response to pain medication alone, it is likely that people in this study did not receive other types of treatment for pain either.”
Source: Institute of Medicine, “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research” (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2011), p. 68. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13172
27. (Populations At Increased Risk For Chronic Pain And For Inadequate Treatment) “An important message from epidemiologic studies cited by Blyth and colleagues (2010) is ‘the universal presence across populations of characteristic subgroups of people with an underlying propensity or increased risk for chronic pain, in the context of a wide range of different precipitating or underlying diseases and injuries’ (p. 282). These vulnerable subgroups are most often those of concern to public health.5 Increased vulnerability to pain is associated with the following:
“• having English as a second language,
“• race and ethnicity,
“• income and education,
“• sex and gender,
“• age group,
“• geographic location,
“• military veterans,
“• cognitive impairments,
“• surgical patients,
“• cancer patients, and
“• the end of life.
“Many of these same groups also are at risk of inadequate treatment.”
Source: Institute of Medicine, “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research” (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2011), pp. 64-65.
- See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Pain#sthash.cexZY0YU.mYofam3q.dpuf