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      Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Treatment of Chronic Pain

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      Pain Medicine

      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          Objective

          To summarize the current literature on disparities in the treatment of chronic pain.

          Methods

          We focused on studies conducted in the United States and published from 2000 and onward. Studies of cross-sectional, longitudinal, and interventional designs were included.

          Results

          A review of the current literature revealed that an adverse association between non-White race and treatment of chronic pain is well supported. Studies have also shown that racial differences exist in the long-term monitoring for opioid misuse among patients suffering from chronic pain. In addition, a patient’s sociodemographic profile appears to influence the relationship between chronic pain and quality of life. Results from interventional studies were mixed.

          Conclusions

          Disparities exist within the treatment of chronic pain. Currently, it is unclear how to best combat these disparities. Further work is needed to understand why disparities exist and to identify points in patients’ treatment when they are most vulnerable to unequal care. Such work will help guide the development and implementation of effective interventions.

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          Most cited references 93

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          Trends in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity for patients seeking care in US emergency departments.

          National quality improvement initiatives implemented in the late 1990s were followed by substantial increases in opioid prescribing in the United States, but it is unknown whether opioid prescribing for treatment of pain in the emergency department has increased and whether differences in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity have decreased. To determine whether opioid prescribing in emergency departments has increased, whether non-Hispanic white patients are more likely to receive an opioid than other racial/ethnic groups, and whether differential prescribing by race/ethnicity has diminished since 2000. Pain-related visits to US emergency departments were identified using reason-for-visit and physician diagnosis codes from 13 years (1993-2005) of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Prescription of an opioid analgesic. Pain-related visits accounted for 156 729 of 374 891 (42%) emergency department visits. Opioid prescribing for pain-related visits increased from 23% (95% confidence interval [CI], 21%-24%) in 1993 to 37% (95% CI, 34%-39%) in 2005 (P < .001 for trend), and this trend was more pronounced in 2001-2005 (P = .02). Over all years, white patients with pain were more likely to receive an opioid (31%) than black (23%), Hispanic (24%), or Asian/other patients (28%) (P < .001 for trend), and differences did not diminish over time (P = .44), with opioid prescribing rates of 40% for white patients and 32% for all other patients in 2005. Differential prescribing by race/ethnicity was evident for all types of pain visits, was more pronounced with increasing pain severity, and was detectable for long-bone fracture and nephrolithiasis as well as among children. Statistical adjustment for pain severity and other factors did not substantially attenuate these differences, with white patients remaining significantly more likely to receive an opioid prescription than black patients (adjusted odds ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.62-0.70), Hispanic patients (0.67; 95% CI, 0.63-0.72), and Asian/other patients (0.79; 95% CI, 0.67-0.93). Opioid prescribing for patients making a pain-related visit to the emergency department increased after national quality improvement initiatives in the late 1990s, but differences in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity have not diminished.
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            Racial and ethnic disparities in pain: causes and consequences of unequal care.

            The purpose of our review is to evaluate critically the recent literature on racial and ethnic disparities in pain and to determine how far we have come toward reducing and eliminating disparities in pain. We examined peer-reviewed research articles published between 1990 and early 2009 that focused on racial and ethnic disparities in pain in the United States. The databases used were PubMed, Medline, Scopus, CINAHL, and PsycInfo. The probable causes of minority group disparities in pain are discussed, along with suggested strategies for eliminating pain-related disparities. This review reveals the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities in acute, chronic, cancer, and palliative pain care across the lifespan and treatment settings, with minorities receiving lesser quality pain care than non-Hispanic whites. Although health and health care disparities attract local, state, and federal attention, disparities in pain care continue to be missing from publicized public health agendas and health care reform plans. Ensuring optimal pain care for all is critically important from a public health and policy perspective. A robust research program on disparities in pain is needed, and the results must be successfully translated into practices and policies specifically designed to reduce and eliminate disparities in care. This review evaluates the recent literature on racial and ethnic disparities in pain and pain treatment. Racial and ethnic disparities in acute pain, chronic cancer pain, and palliative pain care continue to persist. Rigorous research is needed to develop interventions, practices, and policies for eliminating disparities in pain.
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              The economic costs of pain in the United States.

              In 2008, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), about 100 million adults in the United States were affected by chronic pain, including joint pain or arthritis. Pain is costly to the nation because it requires medical treatment and complicates treatment for other ailments. Also, pain lowers worker productivity. Using the 2008 MEPS, we estimated 1) the portion of total U.S. health care costs attributable to pain; and 2) the annual costs of pain associated with lower worker productivity. We found that the total costs ranged from $560 to $635 billion in 2010 dollars. The additional health care costs due to pain ranged from $261 to $300 billion. This represents an increase in annual per person health care costs ranging from $261 to $300 compared to a base of about $4,250 for persons without pain. The value of lost productivity due to pain ranged from $299 to $335 billion. We found that the annual cost of pain was greater than the annual costs of heart disease ($309 billion), cancer ($243 billion), and diabetes ($188 billion). Our estimates are conservative because they do not include costs associated with pain for nursing home residents, children, military personnel, and persons who are incarcerated. This study estimates that the national cost of pain ranges from $560 to $635 billion, larger than the cost of the nation's priority health conditions. Because of its economic toll on society, the nation should invest in research, education, and training to advocate the successful treatment, management, and prevention of pain. Copyright © 2012 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Pain Medicine
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                1526-2375
                1526-4637
                January 01 2021
                February 04 2021
                December 23 2020
                January 01 2021
                February 04 2021
                December 23 2020
                : 22
                : 1
                : 75-90
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
                Article
                10.1093/pm/pnaa427
                19083266-00f3-454d-b44b-1b3b3bde55c0
                © 2020

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