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No race and ethnic differences seen in pain severity among patients wi

Research Activities, September 2009, No. 349

No race and ethnic differences seen in pain severity among patients with long-bone fractures

Numerous studies document underuse of pain-relieving medications for minority patients compared with white patients. However, a new study of patients suffering from long-bone fractures found no major race or ethnicity differences in their self-report of pain severity. Only minor differences in baseline pain severity existed among Hispanics, blacks, and whites, and these were clinically unimportant. Researchers from Montefiore Medical Center analyzed 838 patients in the emergency department with suspected long-bone fractures (fractures of the leg or arm bones). Patients were asked to rate their pain on a scale of 1 (no pain) to 10 (the worst pain possible). Nearly half of the patients (49 percent) were Hispanic, 29 percent were black, and 22 percent were white.

Although the researchers found small differences between the groups, no difference exceeded 0.5 units on the pain scale. All three groups reported moderately high mean pain scores at baseline. Scores were slightly higher for patients with confirmed fractures regardless of race or ethnicity. Higher baseline pain scores were associated with older age and being female. The researchers conclude that previously reported racial and ethnic disparities in underuse of analgesics cannot be explained by differences in baseline pain severity. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13924).

See "Race and ethnicity do not affect baseline self-report of pain severity in patients with suspected long-bone fractures," by Steven L. Bernstein, M.D., E. John Gallagher, M.D., Lisal Cabral, M.D., and Polly Bijur, Ph.D., in the 2009 Pain Medicine 10(1), pp. 106-110.

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Current as of September 2009
Internet Citation: No race and ethnic differences seen in pain severity among patients wi: Research Activities, September 2009, No. 349. September 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/sep09/0909RA8.html