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Airing Pain 142: Societal Inequalities and Disparities in Pain Management

In this edition of Airing Pain, Paul investigates the significant inequalities and disparities in treatment among primary care pain management services.

Pain Concern would like to remind listeners that the topic of chronic pain can be uncomfortable for those with lived experience of chronic pain. Please read the description for information about this edition’s content.

In a 2020 US study, it was found that ‘Implicit bias remains a contributor to healthcare disparities.’ This can be based on gender, ethnicity, disability or locality, and has the potential to affect somebody no matter their background.

In Airing Pain 142, we begin with specific references to disparities in Musculoskeletal (MSK) treatment, and how we can learn from other healthcare fields to increase patient satisfaction; we then focus on how both internal and external stigma can lead to discrimination in treatment; before ending with a discussion about why ethnic minorities are being inadvertently discriminated against in the pain management setting.

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Professor Jonathan Hill is the Director of Research for the School of Allied Health Professionals, and a Professor of Physiotherapy, in the Keele School of Medicine.

Dr Ama Kissi is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Ghent and a Clinical Psychologist.

Dr Whitney Scott is a clinical psychologist who lectures at Kings College London and is the research lead at the INPUT Pain Management Unit at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital.

Time Stamps:

1:30 Professor Jonathan Hill speaks about the disparities in musculoskeletal pain treatment in primary care.

6:06 Sharing their experiences and research, Paul and Jonathan discuss the differences between Pain Management and Diabetes care.

9:54 Jonathan Hill highlights the importance of differentiating between people accessing pain management care frequently and infrequently.

15:26 Jonathan Hill alludes to the ‘Restore’ trial in Australia, and the success of integrating physiotherapists into the pain management care system.

18:44 Dr Whitney Scott talks about the stigma and discrimination of people living with pain.

24:44 Whitney Scott discusses the way that health care professionals can work with people in pain who feel stigmatised.

26:01 Paul and Dr Ama Kissi discuss the disparities in pain management for different ethnicities and hypothesise why this might be the case.

31:17 Ama Kissi shares her own experiences as a black woman in the healthcare environment – this segment discusses childbirth.


This edition of Airing Pain was possible thanks to support from the British Pain Society

Additional Resources:

Pain Matters 84, this edition of our magazine which focuses on the lived experiences of living with pain and the inequalities in public health

A fact sheet from the US Department of Health and Human Services on Stigma and Pain Management

A research article published in ‘Pain and Therapy’ titled ‘Stigma and Chronic Pain’.

Further information on the Restore Trial

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