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.
Recommended CitationOrtega, Rafael A.; Youdelman, Benjamin A.; and Havel, Richard C., "Ethnic variability in the treatment of pain" (1999). Department of Surgery Faculty Papers. Paper 11.