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      Thermal and mechanical quantitative sensory testing values among healthy African American adults

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          Only a few studies have reported quantitative sensory testing (QST) reference values for healthy African Americans, and those studies are limited in sample size and age of participants. The study purpose was to characterize QST values in healthy, pain-free African American adults and older adults whose prior pain experiences and psychological status were also measured. We examined the QST values for differences by sex, age, and body test site.

          Patients and methods

          A cross-sectional sample of 124 pain-free African American adults (age 18–69 years, 49% female) completed demographic and self-reported pain, fatigue and psychosocial measures. QST was performed to obtain thermal and mechanical responses and associated pain intensity levels.


          We found thermal detection values at the anterior forearm were (29.2 °C±1.6) for cool detection (CD) and (34.5 °C±1.2) for warm detection (WD). At that site the sample had cold pain threshold (CPTh) (26.3 °C±5.0), heat pain threshold (HPTh) (37.8 °C±3.6), and mechanical pain thresholds (MPTH) (16.7±22.2 grams of force, gF). There was a significant between sex difference for WD, with women being more sensitive (q=0.027). Lower body sites were less sensitive than upper body sites across all thermal modalities (q<0.003), but not for the mechanical modality.


          The QST values from this protocol at the anterior forearm indicate that the healthy African American adults had average thermal pain thresholds close to the temperature of adaptation and average MPTh under 20 gF. Differences in responses to thermal and mechanical stimuli for upper verses lower body were consistent with prior research.

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          Most cited references 51

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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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            A quantitative review of ethnic group differences in experimental pain response: do biology, psychology, and culture matter?

            Pain is a subjectively complex and universal experience. We examine research investigating ethnic group differences in experimental pain response and factors contributing to group differences. We conducted a systematic literature review and analysis of studies using experimental pain stimuli to assess pain sensitivity across multiple ethnic groups. Our search covered the period from 1944 to 2011, and used the PubMed bibliographic database; a reference source containing over 17 million citations. We calculated effect sizes; identified ethnic/racial group categories, pain stimuli, and measures; and examined findings regarding biopsychosociocultural factors contributing to ethnic/racial group differences. We found 472 studies investigating ethnic group differences and pain. Twenty-six of these met our review inclusion criteria of investigating ethnic group differences in experimental pain. The majority of studies included comparisons between African Americans (AA) and non-Hispanic Whites (NHW). There were consistently moderate to large effect sizes for pain tolerance across multiple stimulus modalities; AA demonstrated lower pain tolerance. For pain threshold, findings were generally in the same direction, but effect sizes were small to moderate across ethnic groups. Limited data were available for suprathreshold pain ratings. A subset of studies comparing NHW and other ethnic groups showed a variable range of effect sizes for pain threshold and tolerance. There are potentially important ethnic/racial group differences in experimental pain perception. Elucidating ethnic group differences has translational merit for culturally competent clinical care and for addressing and reducing pain treatment disparities among ethnically/racially diverse groups. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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              Ethnic identity predicts experimental pain sensitivity in African Americans and Hispanics.

              The aim of this study was to examine experimental pain sensitivity in three ethnic groups, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and non-Hispanic White Americans, and to determine whether ethnic identity is differentially associated with pain sensitivity across ethnic groups. Participants included sixty-three African American, sixty-one Hispanic and eighty-two non-Hispanic white participants who were assessed using three experimental pain measures: thermal, cold-pressor and ischemic. Participants' ethnic identity was assessed using the Multi-group Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM). Ethnic group differences in pain responses were observed, with African American and Hispanic subjects showing lower cold and heat pain tolerances than non-Hispanic White Americans. In addition, pain range (i.e. tolerance-threshold) was computed for heat, cold and ischemic pain, and the two minority groups again had lower values compared to non-Hispanic White Americans. Ethnic identity was associated with pain range only for African American and Hispanic groups. Statistically controlling for ethnic identity rendered some of the group differences in pain range non-significant. These findings indicate that ethnic identity is associated with pain sensitivity in ethnic minority groups, and may partially mediate group differences in pain perception. The results of the present investigation provide evidence of ethnic group differences in responses to experimental pain across multiple noxious stimuli, with both minority groups exhibiting greater sensitivity to laboratory evoked pain compared to non-Hispanic White Americans.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                09 August 2019
                : 12
                : 2511-2527
                [1 ] Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science, College of Dentistry, University of Florida , Gainesville, FL, USA
                [2 ] Department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science, College of Nursing, University of Florida , Gainesville, FL, USA
                [3 ] Department of Women, Children and Family Health Science, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago , Chicago, IL, USA
                [4 ] Department of Biobehavioral Health Science, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago , Chicago, IL, USA
                [5 ] Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Cancer Center, University of Illinois at Chicago , Chicago, IL, USA
                [6 ] Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine , Chicago, IL, USA
                [7 ] Department of Hematology/Oncology, Jessie Brown Veteran’s Administration Medical Center , Chicago, IL, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Keesha L Powell-RoachDepartment of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science, College of Dentistry, University of Florida , 2004 Mowry Drive, P.O. Box 100404, Gainesville, FL32610, USATel +1 312 952 1317Email keesharoach@ufl.edu
                © 2019 Powell-Roach et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 5, References: 72, Pages: 17
                Original Research


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