Under-Represented Demographics & Access to Addressing Chronic Pain

Access Chronic Pain | Dr. Nikesh Seth, Integrated Pain Consultants, Mesa

Under-Represented Demographics & Access to Addressing Chronic Pain

Like Dr. Nikesh Seth, Associate Professor Gwyn Lewis at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is interested in ensuring all patients who would benefit from chronic pain care are properly treated. Prof. Lewis recently conducted research on why ethnic minority communities weren’t accessing services to chronic pain as regularly (and as effectively) as New Zealand’s dominant demographic counterpart. The research may have taken place on the other side of the world, but it’s an unfortunate trend that Integrated Pain Consultants sees too often. The study took place at the AUT School of Clinical Services and found that ethnic minority groups were “significantly underrepresented” at pain clinics despite generally exhibiting more severe pain symptoms.

Causes of Chronic Pain

According to Prof. Lewis, the cause of chronic pain stems from a lack of understanding and cultural beliefs. In her study, New Zealand Europeans were drastically over-represented by about nine percent. However, those from Asian and Pacific descent were under-represented by 49 and 58 percent. The research was a collaboration between the university’s Health and Rehabilitation Research Centre and the Counties Manukau District Health Board. Prof. Lewis gathered data from seven of the Board’s chronic pain services clinics, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of the entire country’s information.

The New Zealand Health Survey reports that over 20 percent of adults in the country suffer from chronic pain. It’s defined as pain lasting longer than three months. While Prof. Lewis says that full reasons for avoiding help for chronic pain are complicated, the study suggests that for many the health referral system is failing them. Some barriers include financial costs, language barriers, hurried consultations, lack of appointment availability, and an “unwelcoming reception.” Unfortunately, such complaints and issues also exist in the United States in many clinics.

Prof. Lewis says some GPs in New Zealand simply don’t have all the information for chronic pain services. Most doctors are Pakeha (a white New Zealander) in New Zealand and lack an understanding of other cultural backgrounds. She says being Pakeha will also drive whether or not a GP refers a patient to a specialist or performs more treatments. Prof. Lewis says Asian, Pacific, and Maori people aren’t as likely to talk about pain and more likely to ignore it. “For some people, it’s not acceptable to talk about chronic pain outside the family,” she says. There’s no need to suffer. Contact Integrated Pain Consultants today and get the safe relief you deserve.