Ethnic Disparities and Chronic Pain Management

Bridget Deann Gibbs, Gardner-Webb University


Extensive research indicates the existence of significant ethnic disparities in the treatment and results of pain management. Chronic pain experienced by ethnically diverse adults often has negative effects on their overall quality of life. This quantitative, descriptive study analyzes 52 ethnically diverse adult’s experience of chronic pain in long term care facilities in Western North Carolina. The findings from this sample demonstrate that African American participants take fewer pain medications and receive less pain relief than Caucasian Americans. There are significant differences between the two races in this sample in regard to perception of functional ability. Daily activity, walking ability, and general work scores revealed statistically significant differences between Caucasian American participants and African American participants. On the other hand, no significant differences were reported regarding emotional capabilities such as mood, relationships, sleep, and enjoyment of life. The literature suggests that ethnic disparities and pain management are complicated, affecting patient, family, health care provider, and organizational components. There is a demand for educational improvements and interventions for health care providers and patients in order to alleviate the burdens that ethnic disparities and chronic pain management have on individuals overall quality of life.