Document Type


Publication Date

November 1999


This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in The American Journal of Anesthesiology 26(9):429-432, Nov/Dec 1999. The published version is available in print format only. Copyright 1999 by Excerpta Medica, Inc.


Ethnicity has been shown to be an important determinant of behavior during illness, particularly when a painful condition is present. Studies have shown that pain may be undertreated among different ethnic groups of patients. Whereas individual variations in the reaction to pain occur, available data do not support racial and/or ethnic differences in the perception of pain, leaving no justification for this discrepancy in treatment. Regardless of ethnicity, inadequate treatment of pain has been known for some time and has been referred to in recent literature as "oligoanalgesia." Lack of understanding of different ethnic and cultural groups can lead to inaccurate pain assessment and has been repeatedly shown to result in suboptimal pain control. Additional research is needed to determine the reasons for discrepancies in pain treatment between ethnic groups. The purpose of the present article is to increase awareness among anesthesiologists about ethnic and cultural issues that may influence their assessment and treatment of pain.

Included in

Surgery Commons