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Keywords:

  • ethnicity;
  • pain;
  • population survey;
  • race;
  • the United States

ABSTRACT Objectives: To investigate differences in reported pain and pain treatment utilization (use of over-the-counter and prescription pain medications, seeing a pain specialist, and use of complementary and alternative medicine) among minorities and nonminorities in the general population.

Design: Secondary analysis of a national probability survey conducted by the CBS News/New York Times in January 2003.

Sample: Adult population in the United States, 18 years or older, having a telephone line at home.

Measurements: The survey asked respondents a series of questions about demographics, pain characteristics, and utilization of pain treatment; logistic regression was used to identify variables predicting reported utilization of pain treatment.

Results: Of the 902 respondents completing the survey, 676 (75%) reported experiencing “any type of pain.” Of these, 17% reported being diagnosed with chronic pain. Minorities reported a higher average daily pain than Whites (4.75 vs. 3.72; p<.001). However, race/ethnicity did not explain utilization of pain treatment; income, education, age, gender, and pain levels explained more variability in different pain treatment utilization variables than race/ethnicity.

Conclusions: Although minorities report higher pain levels than Whites, race/ethnicity does not explain utilization of treatment for pain. Future studies should consider more nuanced examination of interactions among race/ethnicity, pain, and socioeconomic variables.