Original Report| Volume 13, ISSUE 2, P176-186, February 2012

The Association Between Race and Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status in Younger Black and White Adults With Chronic Pain

  • Carmen R. Green
    Address reprint requests to Carmen R. Green, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Health Management and Policy, 1H247 University Hospital, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr., University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0048.
    Medical School, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    School of Public Health, Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Search for articles by this author
  • Tamera Hart-Johnson
    Medical School, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Search for articles by this author
Published:January 16, 2012DOI:


      Both race and socioeconomic status (SES) contribute to disparities. We assessed the relative roles of neighborhood socioeconomic status (nSES) and race in the chronic pain experience for young adults (<50 years old). Data from a tertiary care pain center was matched to 2000 US Census data to examine the role of race and nSES on chronic pain and its sequelae in 3,730 adults (9.7% black, 61% female) 18 to 49 years old (37 ± 8 years). Blacks had significantly more pain and disability and lived in lower SES neighborhoods. Living in a lower SES neighborhood was associated with increased sensory, affective, and “other” pain, pain-related disability, and mood disorders. Race was independently associated with affective and “other” pain on the McGill Pain Questionnaire scales, and both disability factors. Racial disparities in sensory pain and mood disorders were mediated by nSES. In every case, race and neighborhood SES played important roles in the outcomes for chronic pain. Age was related to both disability outcomes. Gender was associated with voluntary disability and mood disorders, with men displaying worse outcomes.


      Important racial- and SES-related variability in pain related outcomes in young adults with chronic pain were defined. Black race was associated with neighborhood SES, and black race plays an important role in pain outcomes beyond neighborhood SES.

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