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      Non-Hispanic Black-White disparities in pain and pain management among newly admitted nursing home residents with cancer

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          Racial disparities in pain management persist across health care settings and likely extend into nursing homes. No recent studies have evaluated racial disparities in pain management among residents with cancer in nursing homes at time of admission.


          Using a cross-sectional study design, we compared reported pain and pain management between non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black newly admitted nursing home residents with cancer (n=342,920) using the de-identified Minimum Data Set version 3.0. Pain management strategies included the use of scheduled analgesics, pro re nata analgesics, and non-pharmacological methods. Presence of pain was based on self-report when residents were able, and staff report when unable. Robust Poisson models provided estimates of adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) and 95% CIs for reported pain and pain management strategies.


          Among nursing home residents with cancer, ~60% reported pain with non-Hispanic Blacks less likely to have both self-reported pain (aPR [Black versus White]: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.97–0.99) and staff-reported pain (aPR: 0.89, 95% CI: 0.86–0.93) documentation compared with Non-Hispanic Whites. While most residents received some pharmacologic pain management, Blacks were less likely to receive any compared with Whites (Blacks: 66.6%, Whites: 71.1%; aPR: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.97–0.99), consistent with differences in receipt of non-pharmacologic treatments (Blacks: 25.8%, Whites: 34.0%; aPR: 0.98, 95 CI%: 0.96–0.99).


          Less pain was reported for Black compared with White nursing home residents and White residents subsequently received more frequent pain management at admission. The extent to which unequal reporting and management of pain persists in nursing homes should be further explored.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Pain and its treatment in outpatients with metastatic cancer.

          Pain is often inadequately treated in patients with cancer. A total of 1308 outpatients with metastatic cancer from 54 treatment locations affiliated with the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group rated the severity of their pain during the preceding week, as well as the degree of pain-related functional impairment and the degree of relief provided by analgesic drugs. Their physicians attributed the pain to various factors, described its treatment, and estimated the impact of pain on the patients' ability to function. We assessed the adequacy of prescribed analgesic drugs using guidelines developed by the World Health Organization, studied the factors that influenced whether analgesia was adequate, and determined the effects of inadequate analgesia on the patients' perception of pain relief and functional status. Sixty-seven percent of the patients (871 of 1308) reported that they had had pain or had taken analgesic drugs daily during the week preceding the study, and 36 percent (475 of 1308) had pain severe enough to impair their ability to function. Forty-two percent of those with pain (250 of the 597 patients for whom we had complete information) were not given adequate analgesic therapy. Patients seen at centers that treated predominantly minorities were three times more likely than those treated elsewhere to have inadequate pain management. A discrepancy between patient and physician in judging the severity of the patient's pain was predictive of inadequate pain management (odds ratio, 2.3). Other factors that predicted inadequate pain management included pain that physicians did not attribute to cancer (odds ratio, 1.9), better performance status (odds ratio, 1.8), age of 70 years or older (odds ratio, 2.4), and female sex (odds ratio, 1.5). Patients with less adequate analgesia reported less pain relief and greater pain-related impairment of function. Despite published guidelines for pain management, many patients with cancer have considerable pain and receive inadequate analgesia.
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            Race, gender, and partnership in the patient-physician relationship.

            Many studies have documented race and gender differences in health care received by patients. However, few studies have related differences in the quality of interpersonal care to patient and physician race and gender. To describe how the race/ethnicity and gender of patients and physicians are associated with physicians' participatory decision-making (PDM) styles. Telephone survey conducted between November 1996 and June 1998 of 1816 adults aged 18 to 65 years (mean age, 41 years) who had recently attended 1 of 32 primary care practices associated with a large mixed-model managed care organization in an urban setting. Sixty-six percent of patients surveyed were female, 43% were white, and 45% were African American. The physician sample (n = 64) was 63% male, with 56% white, and 25% African American. Patients' ratings of their physicians' PDM style on a 100-point scale. African American patients rated their visits as significantly less participatory than whites in models adjusting for patient age, gender, education, marital status, health status, and length of the patient-physician relationship (mean [SE] PDM score, 58.0 [1.2] vs 60.6 [3.3]; P = .03). Ratings of minority and white physicians did not differ with respect to PDM style (adjusted mean [SE] PDM score for African Americans, 59.2 [1.7] vs whites, 61.7 [3.1]; P = .13). Patients in race-concordant relationships with their physicians rated their visits as significantly more participatory than patients in race-discordant relationships (difference [SE], 2.6 [1.1]; P = .02). Patients of female physicians had more participatory visits (adjusted mean [SE] PDM score for female, 62.4 [1.3] vs male, 59.5 [3.1]; P = .03), but gender concordance between physicians and patients was not significantly related to PDM score (unadjusted mean [SE] PDM score, 76.0 [1.0] for concordant vs 74.5 [0.9] for discordant; P = .12). Patient satisfaction was highly associated with PDM score within all race/ethnicity groups. Our data suggest that African American patients rate their visits with physicians as less participatory than whites. However, patients seeing physicians of their own race rate their physicians' decision-making styles as more participatory. Improving cross-cultural communication between primary care physicians and patients and providing patients with access to a diverse group of physicians may lead to more patient involvement in care, higher levels of patient satisfaction, and better health outcomes.
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              Opioids and the management of chronic severe pain in the elderly: consensus statement of an International Expert Panel with focus on the six clinically most often used World Health Organization Step III opioids (buprenorphine, fentanyl, hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone).

              SUMMARY OF CONSENSUS: 1. The use of opioids in cancer pain: The criteria for selecting analgesics for pain treatment in the elderly include, but are not limited to, overall efficacy, overall side-effect profile, onset of action, drug interactions, abuse potential, and practical issues, such as cost and availability of the drug, as well as the severity and type of pain (nociceptive, acute/chronic, etc.). At any given time, the order of choice in the decision-making process can change. This consensus is based on evidence-based literature (extended data are not included and chronic, extended-release opioids are not covered). There are various driving factors relating to prescribing medication, including availability of the compound and cost, which may, at times, be the main driving factor. The transdermal formulation of buprenorphine is available in most European countries, particularly those with high opioid usage, with the exception of France; however, the availability of the sublingual formulation of buprenorphine in Europe is limited, as it is marketed in only a few countries, including Germany and Belgium. The opioid patch is experimental at present in U.S.A. and the sublingual formulation has dispensing restrictions, therefore, its use is limited. It is evident that the population pyramid is upturned. Globally, there is going to be an older population that needs to be cared for in the future. This older population has expectations in life, in that a retiree is no longer an individual who decreases their lifestyle activities. The "baby-boomers" in their 60s and 70s are "baby zoomers"; they want to have a functional active lifestyle. They are willing to make trade-offs regarding treatment choices and understand that they may experience pain, providing that can have increased quality of life and functionality. Therefore, comorbidities--including cancer and noncancer pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and postherpetic neuralgia--and patient functional status need to be taken carefully into account when addressing pain in the elderly. World Health Organization step III opioids are the mainstay of pain treatment for cancer patients and morphine has been the most commonly used for decades. In general, high level evidence data (Ib or IIb) exist, although many studies have included only few patients. Based on these studies, all opioids are considered effective in cancer pain management (although parts of cancer pain are not or only partially opioid sensitive), but no well-designed specific studies in the elderly cancer patient are available. Of the 2 opioids that are available in transdermal formulation--fentanyl and buprenorphine--fentanyl is the most investigated, but based on the published data both seem to be effective, with low toxicity and good tolerability profiles, especially at low doses. 2. The use of opioids in noncancer-related pain: Evidence is growing that opioids are efficacious in noncancer pain (treatment data mostly level Ib or IIb), but need individual dose titration and consideration of the respective tolerability profiles. Again no specific studies in the elderly have been performed, but it can be concluded that opioids have shown efficacy in noncancer pain, which is often due to diseases typical for an elderly population. When it is not clear which drugs and which regimes are superior in terms of maintaining analgesic efficacy, the appropriate drug should be chosen based on safety and tolerability considerations. Evidence-based medicine, which has been incorporated into best clinical practice guidelines, should serve as a foundation for the decision-making processes in patient care; however, in practice, the art of medicine is realized when we individualize care to the patient. This strikes a balance between the evidence-based medicine and anecdotal experience. Factual recommendations and expert opinion both have a value when applying guidelines in clinical practice. 3. The use of opioids in neuropathic pain: The role of opioids in neuropathic pain has been under debate in the past but is nowadays more and more accepted; however, higher opioid doses are often needed for neuropathic pain than for nociceptive pain. Most of the treatment data are level II or III, and suggest that incorporation of opioids earlier on might be beneficial. Buprenorphine shows a distinct benefit in improving neuropathic pain symptoms, which is considered a result of its specific pharmacological profile. 4. The use of opioids in elderly patients with impaired hepatic and renal function: Functional impairment of excretory organs is common in the elderly, especially with respect to renal function. For all opioids except buprenorphine, half-life of the active drug and metabolites is increased in the elderly and in patients with renal dysfunction. It is, therefore, recommended that--except for buprenorphine--doses be reduced, a longer time interval be used between doses, and creatinine clearance be monitored. Thus, buprenorphine appears to be the top-line choice for opioid treatment in the elderly. 5. Opioids and respiratory depression: Respiratory depression is a significant threat for opioid-treated patients with underlying pulmonary condition or receiving concomitant central nervous system (CNS) drugs associated with hypoventilation. Not all opioids show equal effects on respiratory depression: buprenorphine is the only opioid demonstrating a ceiling for respiratory depression when used without other CNS depressants. The different features of opioids regarding respiratory effects should be considered when treating patients at risk for respiratory problems, therefore careful dosing must be maintained. 6. Opioids and immunosuppression: Age is related to a gradual decline in the immune system: immunosenescence, which is associated with increased morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer, and decreased efficacy of immunotherapy, such as vaccination. The clinical relevance of the immunosuppressant effects of opioids in the elderly is not fully understood, and pain itself may also cause immunosuppression. Providing adequate analgesia can be achieved without significant adverse events, opioids with minimal immunosuppressive characteristics should be used in the elderly. The immunosuppressive effects of most opioids are poorly described and this is one of the problems in assessing true effect of the opioid spectrum, but there is some indication that higher doses of opioids correlate with increased immunosuppressant effects. Taking into consideration all the very limited available evidence from preclinical and clinical work, buprenorphine can be recommended, while morphine and fentanyl cannot. 7. Safety and tolerability profile of opioids: The adverse event profile varies greatly between opioids. As the consequences of adverse events in the elderly can be serious, agents should be used that have a good tolerability profile (especially regarding CNS and gastrointestinal effects) and that are as safe as possible in overdose especially regarding effects on respiration. Slow dose titration helps to reduce the incidence of typical initial adverse events such as nausea and vomiting. Sustained release preparations, including transdermal formulations, increase patient compliance.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                12 April 2018
                : 11
                : 753-761
                [1 ]Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, Clinical and Population Health Research Program, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA
                [2 ]Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Kate L Lapane, Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 368 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605, USA, Tel +1 508 856 8993, Email Kate.Lapane@ 123456umassmed.edu
                © 2018 Mack 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.

                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                race, pain management, pain, cancer, nursing homes


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