Disability and Race: Black Pain/White Pain

I’ve been meaning to blog this for awhile – the way that black pain and white pain get treated differently. Whites, who get more pain killers, get addicted. African-Americans, on the other hand, get fewer pain killers and so don’t have the same addiction rates, but have more pain.

The experience of African-Americans, like Ms. Lewis, and other minorities illustrates a problem as persistent as it is complex: Minorities tend to receive less treatment for pain than whites, and suffer more disability as a result.

While an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse has swept across the United States, African-Americans and Hispanics have been affected at much lower rates than whites. Researchers say minority patients use fewer opioids, and they offer a thicket of possible explanations, including a lack of insurance coverage and a greater reluctance among minorities to take opioid painkillers even if they are prescribed. But the researchers have also found evidence of racial bias and stereotyping in recognizing and treating pain among minorities, particularly black patients.

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