Saturday 10 December 2022
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Study Reveals the Shocking Reason African Americans are Under-Medicated for Chronic Pain

Prescription pillsA study from the University of Virginia was released Monday, revealing why African Americans are routinely undertreated for pain.

Researchers quizzed white medical students and residents to find out how many of them believed inaccurate information about biological differences between black people and white people. What they found was that nearly 40% of participants surveyed supported the belief that a black person’s blood coagulates more quickly than a white person’s, and 58% admitted to believing that black skin is thicker than white skin. A shocking 12% responded affirmatively to the suggestion that white people have larger brains than black people.

But that isn’t the end of it. Those white students who held false beliefs repeatedly rated black patients’ pain as less severe than that of white patients. Consequently, they often made inappropriate recommendations for treatment and were far more likely to prescribe strong pain medications to white patients for equivalent ailments.

Researchers said they were surprised upon learning the results of the study. “We were expecting some endorsement [of false beliefs],” said study leader Kelly Hoffman. They were shocked, however, that so many individuals with medical training supported the “more outlandish” beliefs.

A study out of Emory University in 2000 revealed that an Atlanta emergency room was giving out painkillers to 74% of white patients with bone fractures, but to only 50% of black patients with the same injury.

Researchers cite unconscious stereotypes and physician bias as the two primary factors contributing to the disparity in medical care. Unlike doctors, however, pain sees no race and discriminates against no one. An estimated 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain worldwide, yet it seems that only a fraction are receiving the treatment they need.

One might argue that the residents’ and students’ lack of medical knowledge is almost more disconcerting than their unconscious racial bias. A doctor who is misinformed about basic human biology is not a reliable physician.

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