Race and Neighborhood Status Linked with Chronic Pain

With the study, the University of Michigan researchers have opened a new frontier in addressing chronic pain in America. The results showed where a patient lives, its structural barriers, affluence, and access to resources such as pain medicines, play an important role in pain management.

“Acknowledging the patient’s life circumstances and resources may facilitate physician-patient communication, increase adherence, improve health care effectiveness and efficiency and improve the patient’s health and well-being,” says Doctor Carmen R. Green of the U-M Health System.

The study included 3,730 adults, all under age 50, and was designed to examine the association between race and neighborhood socioeconomic status in young black and white adults with chronic pain.

Living in a lower socioeconomic neighborhood was associated with increased sensory, affective and other pain, pain-related disability and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, according to the study.

But blacks, especially young adults, had significantly more pain and disability whether in lower or higher socioeconomic neighborhoods, the study showed.

“Our results provide support for race as well as neighborhood socioeconomic status influencing the pain experience but further suggests that better socioeconomic status is not protective for young blacks in the same way it is for young whites,” says Green. “Our findings show an unequal burden of pain in blacks and among those living in poor neighborhoods among the 116 million adults who experience chronic pain. As the U.S. increasingly diversifies, and the prevalence of pain increases, it is critically important to examine health disparities due to pain in vulnerable populations.”

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System