Pain is a common emergency department (ED) complaint. It is important to understand the differences in pain perception among different ethnic and demographic populations.
We applied a standardized painful stimulus to Caucasian and Latino adult patients to determine whether the level of pain reported differed depending on ethnicity (N=100; 50 Caucasian [C], 50 Latino [L] patients) and gender (N=100; 59 female, 41 male). Patients had an initial pain score of 0 or 1. A blood pressure cuff was inflated 20 mm HG above the patient’s systolic blood pressure and held for three minutes. Pain scores, using both a 10-cm visual analog scale (VAS) and a five-point Likert scale, were taken at the point of maximal stimulus (2 minutes 50 seconds after inflation), and at one- and two-minute intervals post deflation.
There was a statistically significant difference between the Likert scale scores of Caucasian and Latino patients at 2min 50sec (mean rank: 4.35 [C] vs. 5.75 [L], p<0.01), but not on the VAS (mean value: 2.94 [C] vs. 3.46 [L], p=0.255). Women had a higher perception of pain than males at 2min 50sec on the VAS (mean value: 3.86 [F] vs. 2.24 [M], p<0.0001), and the Likert scale (mean rank: 5.63 [F] vs. 4.21 [M], p<0.01).