The Association Between Racialized Discrimination in Health Care and Pain Among Black Patients With Mental Health Diagnoses

Patrick J. Hammett, Johanne Eliacin, Michael Saenger, Kelli D. Allen, Laura A. Meis, Sarah L. Krein, Brent C. Taylor, Mariah Branson, Steven S. Fu, Diana J. Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Chronic pain is a costly and debilitating problem in the United States, and its burdens are exacerbated among socially disadvantaged and stigmatized groups. In a cross-sectional study of Black Veterans with chronic pain at the Atlanta VA Health Care System (N = 380), we used path analysis to explore the roles of racialized discrimination in health care settings, pain self-efficacy, and pain-related fear avoidance beliefs as potential mediators of pain outcomes among Black Veterans with and without an electronic health record-documented mental health diagnosis. In unadjusted bivariate analyses, Black Veterans with a mental health diagnosis (n = 175) reported marginally higher levels of pain-related disability and significantly higher levels of pain interference compared to those without a mental health diagnosis (n = 205). Path analyses revealed that pain-related disability, pain intensity, and pain interference were mediated by higher levels of racialized discrimination in health care and lower pain self-efficacy among Black Veterans with a mental health diagnosis. Pain-related fear avoidance beliefs did not mediate pain outcomes. These findings highlight the need to improve the quality and effectiveness of health care for Black patients with chronic pain through the implementation of antiracism interventions within health care systems. Results further suggest that Black patients with chronic pain who have a mental health diagnosis may benefit from targeted pain management strategies that focus on building self-efficacy for managing pain. Perspective: Racialized health care discrimination and pain self-efficacy mediated differences in pain-related disability, pain intensity, and pain interference among Black Veterans with and without a mental health diagnosis. Findings highlight the need for antiracism interventions within health care systems in order to improve the quality of care for Black patients with chronic pain. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01983228.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

Keywords

  • African Americans
  • Chronic pain
  • mental health disorders
  • racial discrimination
  • veterans health

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