Race and Socioeconomic Status Linked to Chronic Pain

Black race, lower socioeconomic status independently tied with chronic pain outcomes

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic pain is worse for black patients and for those living in a neighborhood with low socioeconomic status (SES), according to research published in the February issue of The Journal of Pain.

To evaluate the role race and neighborhood SES may play on chronic pain and its sequelae, Carmen R. Green, M.D., and Tamera Hart-Johnson, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, used data collected from 3,730 adult patients treated at a tertiary care pain center and matched it with U.S. Census data to determine race and neighborhood SES.

The researchers found that black patients tended to live in lower SES neighborhoods, which was associated with increased sensory, affective, and "other" pain; pain-related disability; and mood disorders. Additionally, black patients reported significantly more pain and disability. Using the McGill Pain Questionnaire scales, the researchers found that race was independently associated with both affective and "other" pain categories. Neighborhood SES played a role in mediating racial disparities in sensory pain and mood disorders. The outcomes for chronic pain were affected by race and neighborhood SES.

"These results illustrate the importance of both race and SES when assessing the independent and interactive components of chronic pain as well as disparities in pain outcomes," the authors write. "These findings have significant implications on observed variability in the pain experience, pain care choices, and pain management outcomes as well as the potential to improve quality of care and quality of life for all."

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