Ethnicity and Interdisciplinary Pain Treatment

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The purpose of this study was to identify ethnic differences in interdisciplinary pain treatment outcome and whether these differences occur while controlling for the effects of demographics, psychosocial, and secondary gain.


We assessed a sample of 116 (Caucasian, African American, and Latino/a) chronic pain patients who participated a 4-week interdisciplinary pain treatment program. Outcome measure included pretreatment, post-treatment, and change scores on the Multidimensional Pain Inventory, Pain Anxiety Symptom Scale 20, Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire, Coping Strategies Questionnaire-revised, and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale—short form.


Analysis of covariances revealed that after accounting for educational and sex differences, ethnic minorities differed from Caucasians on a number of treatment outcome measures at pre- and post-treatment [F's ≥ 5.38; P's < 0.01]. At pretreatment, Latino/a's endorsed greater levels of pain-related anxiety, pain severity, and pain catastrophizing than Caucasians. Both Latino/a's and African Americans reported greater use of prayer at pre- and post-treatment, with Caucasians showing the greatest decrease in the use of prayer in response to treatment. At post-treatment, African Americans had higher level of depression and lower levels of reported activity than Caucasians.


Results support the notion that ethnic differences in pain treatment outcome exist. Further, ethnic minority groups appear to have greater levels of distress compared to Caucasians. However, African Americans, Latino/a's and Caucasians demonstrated similar improvements on all outcome measures, with exception of the use of prayer. Future studies should begin to explore the mechanisms to explain why ethnic group differences in pain treatment outcome occur.

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