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Pain. 2005 Apr;114(3):462-72.

Race and socioeconomic differences in post-settlement outcomes for African American and Caucasian Workers' Compensation claimants with low back injuries.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, 1221 S. Grand Blvd. St Louis, MO 63104, USA.


The purpose of this study was to predict post-settlement pain intensity, psychological distress, disability, and financial struggle among African American (n=580) and non-Hispanic Caucasian (n=892) Workers' Compensation claimants with single incident low back injury. The study was a population-based telephone survey conducted in three population centers in Missouri. Post-settlement outcomes were predicted from claimant demographics (race, age, gender); socioeconomic status (SES); diagnosis and legal representation; and Workers' Compensation resolution variables (treatment costs, temporary disability status, disability rating, settlement costs). Simultaneous-entry, hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses indicated that African American race and lower SES predicted higher levels of post-settlement pain intensity, psychological distress (general mental health, pain-related catastrophizing), disability (pain-related role interference), and financial struggle, independent of age, gender, diagnosis, legal representation, and Workers' Compensation resolution variables. The results suggest that African American race and lower SES-relative to Caucasian race and higher SES-are risk factors for poor outcomes after occupational low back injury. Mechanisms to explain these associations are discussed, including patient-level, provider-level, legal, and Workers' Compensation system-level factors.

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