Americans not equal facing high-impact pain

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-02 06:54:57|Editor: An
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CHICAGO, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- While a large number of Americans live with chronic pain, the most debilitating pain hit hardest among people who have the fewest financial resources, a new study of the University of Michigan (UM) School of Public Health shows.

Nearly 10 percent of Americans aged above 50 suffer from high-impact, long-standing pain that has a substantial negative effect on work, social or other everyday activities. However, those whose household wealth is in the lowest quartile experience high-impact pain three times more than those in the highest wealth group, said Mary Janevic, assistant research professor at the School of Public Health of the University of Michigan (UM).

Pain affects all sectors of society. But "wealthier people tend to have better health, less psychological stress, occupations that are less likely to cause injury, better access to medical care and the ability to pay for 'extras' like gym memberships or complementary treatments that help some people manage pain," said Janevic. "They also can pay for conveniences like more accessible homes that enable them to function better even when they are experiencing pain."

The study also found that African-Americans as well as people with less education and wealth, tend to report more pain-related disability within specific categories of daily activities and were more likely to experience financial problems due to pain.

"In addition to accumulating less wealth due to a long history of discrimination and housing segregation, other research has shown that African-Americans tend to be undertreated for pain. These factors could contribute to the observed racial disparities in pain disability," Janevic said.

A Health and Retirement Study led by UM has conducted surveys of Americans over 50 since 1992. Janevic and colleagues released the study's findings: out of a group of nearly 1,800 respondents who were asked in detail about their pain, 778 had pain in the last year lasting at least one week and 176 of them had prolonged episodes, defined as seven months or longer, with substantial adverse effects on daily life.

The study also found that health conditions most strongly associated with high-impact pain were arthritis and depression.

"Socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in chronic pain, like all health disparities, will not go away until we have a more equitable, less discriminatory society with universal access to effective treatments," Janevic said.

The study has been published in the Journal of Pain.