Racial-ethnic disparities in pain intensity and interference among middle-aged and older U.S. adults.

TitleRacial-ethnic disparities in pain intensity and interference among middle-aged and older U.S. adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsYang, Y, M Reid, C, Grol-Prokopczyk, H, Pillemer, K
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series A
ISSN Number1758-535X
Keywordshealth inequity, Pain interference, Racial Disparities

BACKGROUND: This study aims to better understand differing pain experiences across U.S. racial/ethnic subgroups by estimating racial-ethnic disparities in both pain intensity and domain-specific pain-related interference. To address this issue, we use a nationally-representative sample of non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic adults ages 50+ who report recently experiencing pain.

METHODS: Using data from the 2010 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS; N=684), we conducted a series of multivariate analyses to assess possible racial/ethnic disparities in pain intensity and seven domains of pain interference, controlling for relevant sociodemographic variables and other health problems.

RESULTS: Black and Hispanic participants reported higher pain intensity than White participants after controlling for socioeconomic status (SES) and other health conditions. Both Black and Hispanic individuals reported more domain-specific pain interference in bivariate analyses. In multivariate analyses, Black (vs. White) participants reported significantly higher levels of pain interference with family-home responsibilities, occupation, sexual behavior, and daily self-care. We did not find significant Hispanic-White differences in the seven pain interference domains, nor did we find Black-White differences in three domains (recreation, social activities, and essential activities).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight the need for using multi-dimensional measures of pain when assessing for possible pain disparities with respect to race/ethnicity. Future studies on pain interventions should consider contextualizing the pain experience across different racial subgroups to help pain patients with diverse needs, with the ultimate goal of reducing racial/ethnic disparities in pain.

Citation Key11751
PubMed ID34265049