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Blacks Get Short End of Pain Treatment Stick

They're more likely to miss out on effective therapies

FRIDAY, March 21, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Racial disparities mean that many black Americans may be missing out on effective treatment for chronic pain, ranging from arthritis to backache.

As a result, many blacks suffer in their ability to work, play and enjoy life, says a University of Michigan study presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society in Chicago.

For example, the study found that black women are much more likely than white women to suffer severe pain and related mental health effects when they finally go for treatment from pain specialists.

The study also found that blacks face more barriers than whites in getting effective pain care.

The researchers didn't cite specific reasons for these racial disparities in how blacks and whites perceive and handle pain. But the researchers suggest that a number of factors, such as economic and cultural, influence these differences.

The researchers used questionnaires to ask black and white men and women about their pain, treatment and other pain-related issues.

"Although the health of the U.S. population has improved substantially over the past 50 years, racial and ethnic minorities continue to lag behind non-minorities on many key health indicators," study lead author Dr. Carmen Green says in a news release.

"We're starting to understand that chronic pain, which can interfere greatly with a person's work, social and personal life, and emotional and physical health, may be no different from what others have found in other conditions."

More information

Here's where you can learn more about pain.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, March 20, 2003
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