THE INFLUENCE OF PATIENT RACE, PATIENT GENDER, AND PROVIDER PAIN-RELATED ATTITUDES ON PAIN ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHILDREN WITH PAIN

2019-10-16T15:51:36Z (GMT) by Megan Marie Miller
Chronic pain is a common and costly health condition for children. Previous studies have documented racial and gender disparities in pain care for adults, with women and racial minorities receiving poorer pain assessment and treatment. Providers contribute to these disparities when their pain-related decision-making systematically varies across patient demographic groups. Little is known about racial and gender disparities in children with chronic pain, or the extent to which providers contribute to these disparities. In a sample of 129 medical students (henceforth referred to as ‘providers’), Virtual Human (VH) methodology and a pain-related version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) were used to assess the effects of patient race/gender and provider implicit racial/gender attitudes on providers’ pain assessment and treatment decisions for children with chronic pain. Findings indicated that, in the context of abdominal pain, providers rated Black patients as more distressed (mean difference [MD]=2.33, p<.01, SE=.71, 95% CI=.92, 3.73) and as experiencing more pain-related interference in daily activities (MD=3.14, p<.01, SE=.76, 95% CI=1.63, 4.64) compared to White patients. Providers were also more likely to recommended opioids for Black patients’ pain compared to White patients (MD=2.41, p<.01, SE=.58, 95% CI=1.05, 3.76). Female patients were also perceived to be more distressed by their pain (MD=2.14, p<.01, SE=.79, 95% CI=.58, 3.70), however they there were no differences in treatment recommendations based on patient gender (all ps>.05). The sample reported implicit attitudes that men and Black Americans were more pain-tolerant than their demographic counterparts; however, pain assessment and treatment decisions were not related to these implicit attitudes. This study represents a critical step in research on pain-related disparities in pediatric pain. Future studies are needed to further elucidate specific paths through which the pain experience and consequent treatment differ across racial and gender groups.