Pain and Function in Home Care: A Need for Treatment Tailoring to Reduce Disparities?

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To describe racial/ethnic group differences in pain presentation and the prevalence of psychosocial factors among patients admitted to home health care, and to determine the extent of racial/ethnic group differences in the association of psychosocial factors with pain intensity and pain-related disability.


We analyzed cross-sectional data on 588 patients with activity-limiting pain admitted to home care for physical therapy. Three psychosocial factors were assessed: depressive symptoms, pain self-efficacy, and health literacy. Statistical methods included estimation of general linear models of pain intensity and pain-related disability.


Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks report a greater number of pain sites, worse pain intensity, and higher levels of pain-related disability than non-Hispanic whites and others. Racial/ethnic minority group patients also have a higher prevalence of adverse psychosocial factors than others, with evidence that race/ethnicity interacts with pain self-efficacy and depressive symptoms in their association with mean pain intensity and pain-related disability, respectively.


The substantial racial/ethnic difference in the psychosocial profiles of older adults with activity-limiting pain highlights the importance of screening for these modifiable risk factors and tailoring interventions accordingly. Direct attention to the psychosocial needs of patients could help to address racial/ethnic disparities in pain outcomes.

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