Diversity + Outreach

Developing immunity to racial inequality in pain management

Over the past year, America has come face to face with a horrifying pandemic — COVID-19. The pandemic revealed concerning statistics regarding a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on minorities both in terms of being more susceptible to contracting the virus as well as having less access to care and treatment, especially Black and Latino communities.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics on COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths by race and ethnicity, when compared to white, non-Hispanic persons, African Americans had 2.6 times more cases, 4.7 times more hospitalizations, and 2.1 times more deaths. Likewise, Hispanics had 2.8 times more cases, 4.6 times more hospitalizations, and 1.1 times more deaths.

The world watched as the United States began to reexamine how systemic racism still exists in its communities — including medicine, a practice that should be immune to racial inequalities.

Racial disparities in medicine are especially apparent in pain management. According to the July 2011 issue of the Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research Journal, ethnic minorities consistently receive less adequate treatment for both acute and chronic pain than non-Hispanic whites in terms of analegesics received and attention to the pain they reported. Pain intensity underreporting was determined to be a contributing factor to pain management disparities, but this also highlights physicians’ limited awareness of such disparities and potentially of their own beliefs and negative stereotypes regarding minority ethnicities.

Read the rest of this article in the February 2021 issue of Contour magazine.

~Stephanie Jaipaul, Georgia ’22, Chapter President, ASDA Electronic Editor

Stephanie Jaipaul

Stephanie Jaipaul is a current third-year dental student at the Dental College of Georgia. She has served ASDA in the past as an electronic editor, district 4 professional relations chair and is currently the immediate past president of the ASDA chapter at DCG.

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