Many With Chronic Pain Get Inadequate Relief, Study Finds

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) — Many black patients and women with chronic pain receive inadequate treatment for their pain while being treated by a primary care doctor, a U.S. study has found.

Researchers looked at nearly 200 patients with chronic pain and found that black patients were prescribed fewer pain medications than whites, and that doses of pain medications received by women were often too weak to manage chronic pain.

On average, black patients were taking 1.8 pain medications, compared with 2.6 medications among white patients. In addition, only 21 percent of women were prescribed a strong opioid pain drug compared to 30 percent of men, the investigators found.

Overall, young men received better pain management, according to the University of Michigan Health System researchers.

The study authors noted that inadequate control of chronic pain can lead to sleep problems, depression and disability.

“Most patients first seek help for pain from their primary care doctor. If we are to reduce or eliminate disparities in pain care, we have to support successful primary care interventions,” lead author Dr. Carmen R. Green said in a university news release.

The researchers didn’t ask physicians about their prescribing practices but did collect patients’ opinions about barriers to care.

“Men and women differed on a single item — the notion, primarily among women, to save medication in case pain gets worse. Blacks also more strongly endorsed that it was easier to put up with pain than the side effects of medication,” Green stated in the news release.

The study is published in the August issue of the Journal of Pain.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about chronic pain.