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J Natl Med Assoc. 2005 Oct;97(10):1369-77.

Racial differences in the physical and psychosocial health among black and white women with chronic pain.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Gender-based differences in pain epidemiology, pain threshold, attitudes toward pain management, coping styles and social roles are well described, yet little is known about the chronic pain experience in women or the role race plays. A retrospective analysis of self-reported data using a secondary clinical database was performed to elucidate the relationship between race and pain severity, depression, physical disability, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as affective distress in women with chronic pain. White (n=1,088) and black (n=104) adult women were compared based on their responses to the McGill Pain Questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, Pain Disability Index, Posttraumatic Chronic Pain Test and items from the West-Haven Yale Multidisciplinary Pain Inventory. After accounting for sociodemographic, medical, psychological and physical confounders, there was no significant race effect for pain severity or affective distress. However, black women with chronic pain experience more physical impairments than white women with chronic pain (beta = 4.622; p<0.005). Except for the family/home responsibilities, similar differences were found on all PDI subscales. We also found that disability mediates the race-depression relationship such that black women are comparatively more vulnerable to depression as a result of higher disability. Due to the economic, social and emotional impact that disability has on women with chronic pain and their families, these findings have significant implications for chronic pain research as well as its management in black women.

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