Navigation Links
New perspective diminishes racial bias in pain treatment
Date:3/7/2011

MADISON Years of research show black patients getting less treatment in the American health care system than their white counterparts, but a new study suggests that a quick dose of empathy helps close racial gaps in pain treatment.

College students and nurses went to greater lengths to ease the pain of members of their own race in a study led by Brian Drwecki, a psychology graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"I want to be very clear about this: We're not saying health care professionals are racist," Drwecki says. "This is not racism. Racism is a conscious act of hate. We find it very unlikely that health care professionals are aware that they are making these biases, let alone trying to actively hurt black patients."

Empathy emerged as a strong unconscious factor driving racial bias in pain treatment in the study, published online in February in the journal PAIN by Drwecki and colleagues from UW-Madison and the University of Northern British Columbia.

Study subjects watched the faces of shoulder pain sufferers in videos recorded while the patients were being put through range-of-motion tests. After assessing the patients' grimaces and furrowed brows, the study participants doled out treatment (pain medication, physical therapy, massage and acupuncture) in varying amounts.

White participants ordered significantly more pain treatment for white patients, and scored higher on tests measuring the empathy they felt for the patients who received preferential treatment. Despite a vast difference in experience and knowledge the students had no medical training, while nurses are often directly involved in trying to monitor pain and keep patients comfortable the two groups showed very similar biases.

"The students' results were consistent with the nurses' results, supporting the idea that individuals are predisposed to racial bias in pain treatment before or after health care training," Drwecki says.

The researchers have a promising, simple and cheap prescription for the problem. Simply asking the students and nurses to briefly put themselves in their patients' shoes had a drastic effect on their decisions.

"With half of our participants, we said, 'Before you make your treatment decisions, spend a moment imagining how your patient feels about his or her pain and how this pain is affecting his or her life,'" Drwecki says.

The quick shift of perspective reduced the pain treatment gap by 98 percent for the students and 55 percent among the nurses in the study, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"The cool thing is, as humans, we can increase our empathy," Drwecki says. "You may not be the most naturally empathic person, but you can try these interventions and feel them working. Yes, this study demonstrates that racial bias in pain treatment exists, but, more importantly, it teaches us that it's not inevitable."

Moreover, Drwecki believes empathy's role in health care in treatment decisions like pain therapy and factors such as emergency room wait times is ripe for more study.

"There are numerous studies showing similar effects in the real world," Drwecki said. "It's time to not only accept that these racial biases exist, but also to figure out how to eliminate them."


'/>"/>

Contact: Brian Drwecki
drwecki@wisc.edu
608-234-0616
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. OTC Perspectives Announces 2010 Ad Awards Finalists Presented by HealthCentral
2. Rick Kronberg Joins Perspectives Ltd As Director of Clinical Services
3. Cruise Plastic Surgery Looks at Mommy Makeovers from the Husband's Perspective and Offers Tips
4. "What If We're Him?" -- New Book Poses Provocative Perspective on Jesus, God
5. AACR Adds to Growing STAR P-2 trial; Publishes Update and Perspectives in Cancer Prevention Research
6. New book offers cutting-edge perspective on causes of schizophrenia; related disorders
7. Culture wires the brain: A cognitive neuroscience perspective
8. Perspectives on improving patient care: Genetics, personalized medicine, and behavioral intervention
9. Unexpectedly small effects of mutations in bacteria bring new perspectives
10. fMRI special section of Perspectives on Psychological Science
11. New report provides womens perspectives on medical male circumcision for HIV prevention
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... March 24, 2017 , ... ... related services to families and business owners across eastern Michigan, is connecting with ... families struggling with financial difficulties. , The Oxford/Orion FISH Food Pantry works to ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... 24, 2017 , ... In just two days, Aqua Design ... garden on Kickstarter . Surpassing the $100,000 milestone so quickly,10-times the original ... (and counting) already backing the campaign. , “We are very grateful for ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Northridge dentists, Dr. Michel Elyson ... apnea and TMJ at their office. TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, has long ... is increasingly being treated at dental offices with newly developed procedures and appliances. ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... 24, 2017 , ... The law firm of Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, ... Westchester resident Lauren C. Enea has joined the firm as an associate attorney. Ms. ... practice in elder law, Medicaid planning and applications, and Wills, Trusts and Estates. ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Miami, FL (PRWEB) , ... March 24, 2017 ... ... HyGIeaCare Inc. ( http://www.hygieacare.com ) announced their partnership to prep patients for colonoscopy ... Health Endoscopy Centers in 87th Ave., Miami, FL. , The ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)... 2017 New England Pediatric Device Consortium (NEPDC) ... including funding and in-kind service towards the commercialization of ... "Making blood draws less traumatic for children could ... experience better.  We,re looking forward to working with Velano ... care for the kids we treat," said Ann-Christine ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... 2017 Research and Markets has announced the addition ... Demand Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... The global wound care market was worth ... CAGR of 6.7% during 2016-2022 Among the various wound care ... in the global market in 2015. Among the various applications, surgical wound ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Dental ... ... markets for Dental Implants in US$ Million. The report provides separate comprehensive ... , Europe , Asia-Pacific , ... Annual estimates and forecasts are provided for the period 2015 through ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: