Racial and ethnic disparities in pain management pose major challenges to equitable cancer care delivery. These disparities are driven by complex interactions between patient-, provider-, and system-related factors that resist reductionistic solutions and require innovative, holistic approaches. On September 19, 2022, the Society for Integrative Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology published a joint guideline to provide evidence-based recommendations on integrative medicine for cancer pain management. Integrative medicine, which combines conventional treatments with complementary modalities from cultures and traditions around the world, are uniquely equipped to resonate with diverse cancer populations and fill existing gaps in pain management. Although some complementary modalities, such as music therapy and yoga, lack sufficient evidence to make a specific recommendation, other modalities, such as acupuncture, massage, and hypnosis, demonstrated an intermediate level of evidence, resulting in moderate strength recommendations for their use in cancer pain management. However, several factors may hinder real-world implementation of the Society for Integrative Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology guideline and must be addressed to ensure equitable pain management for all communities. These barriers include, but are not limited to, the lack of insurance coverage for many complementary therapies, the limited diversity and availability of complementary therapy providers, the negative social norms surrounding complementary therapies, the underrepresentation of racial and ethnic subgroups in the clinical research of complementary therapies, and the paucity of culturally attuned interventions tailored to diverse individuals. This commentary examines both the challenges and the opportunities for addressing racial and ethnic disparities in cancer pain management through integrative medicine.
Liou, Kevin T.; Ashare, Rebecca; Worster, Brooke; Jones, Katie F.; Yeager, Katherine A.; Acevedo, Amanda M.; Ferrer, Rebecca; and Meghani, Salimah H., "SIO-ASCO Guideline on Integrative Medicine for Cancer Pain Management: Implications for Racial and Ethnic Pain Disparities" (2023). Department of Medical Oncology Faculty Papers. Paper 246.
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