Study to Remedy Disparities in Cancer Pain Management Needs More African-American Participants

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Every year, numerous studies report that African–American cancer patients are under treated for cancer pain. According to the report The Unequal Burden of Pain: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pain (2003), African–Americans with cancer were less likely to be assessed for pain, and did not receive pain medications that were strong enough to manage their level of pain. Another study showed that Black cancer patients had a 64 percent greater chance of receiving no pain treatment than did non–Hispanic whites.

Although health care professionals realize that inadequate pain assessment is a major hurdle to overcome in order to achieve optimal pain treatment, they often underestimate pain severity in African–Americans in comparison to white patients.

"Black patients are usually under–medicated because their verbal and non–verbal communication about pain is frequently misunderstood by physicians and nurses," says Dr. Eun–Ok Im from the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at Austin.

The question remains "Why are there still disparities in cancer pain treatment outcomes between African–American and white cancer patients, even though there are so many advances in treatment today?" One reason is because clinicians do not have a reliable resource that can help them make better decisions about the specific needs and desires of Blacks with cancer pain. With such a tool, they should have no excuse for discrepancies in treatment between different ethnicities.

Dr. Im and her colleagues are conducting an innovative cancer pain management study that ultimately aims to develop computer software to assist nurses’ decision making on cancer pain.

In order to create this much needed computer program, the researchers have resolved that there has to be an equal number of participants from four ethnicities – African–American, Non–Hispanic White, Hispanic, and Asian. Currently, African–Americans have the fewest participants of the four ethnicities. The study needs more Black participants so that the program can be representative of their specific needs.

If you are a cancer patient or if you know someone who is conquering cancer, please visit the study website at to complete a questionnaire. In addition to the questionnaire, willing participants may also participate in an online forum discussion. Participants who complete a questionnaire will be compensated with a $10 Target gift certificate. Those who complete both the questionnaire and the online forum will receive a $50 Target gift certificate.

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0 JHopDoc 2008-12-16 20:16
What I find to be especially disconcerting-- inter alia--is the fact that this article is utterly correct.
Additionally, as a Physician, alas, I, too, have been that pt. in the ER and on the wards and not be aptly treated for debilitating pain. This is a atter that needs perennial redress. Outstanding work!

A fellow vic.
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