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Differences in Pain Coping Between Black and White Americans: A Meta-Analysis

Published:January 12, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2015.12.017

      Highlights

      • We meta-analyzed differences in pain coping between white and black Americans.
      • Overall, black individuals use coping strategies more frequently.
      • Race differences in pain coping are largest for praying and catastrophizing.
      • Research is needed to better understand the influence of culture in this context.

      Abstract

      Compared with white individuals, black individuals experience greater pain across clinical and experimental modalities. These race differences may be due to differences in pain-related coping. Several studies examined the relationship between race and pain coping; however, no meta-analytic review has summarized this relationship or attempted to account for differences across studies. The goal of this meta-analytic review was to quantify race differences in the overall use of pain coping strategies as well as specific coping strategies. Relevant studies were identified using electronic databases, an ancestry search, and by contacting authors for unpublished data. Of 150 studies identified, 19 met inclusion criteria, resulting in 6,489 participants and 123 effect sizes. All of the included studies were conducted in the United States. Mean effect sizes were calculated using a random effects model. Compared with white individuals, black individuals used pain coping strategies more frequently overall (standardized mean difference [d] = .25, P < .01), with the largest differences observed for praying (d = .70) and catastrophizing (d = .40). White individuals engaged in task persistence more than black individuals (d = −.28). These results suggest that black individuals use coping strategies more frequently, specifically strategies associated with poorer pain outcomes. Future research should examine the extent to which the use of these strategies mediates race differences in the pain experience.

      Perspective

      Results of this meta-analysis examining race differences in pain-related coping indicate that, compared with white individuals, black individuals use coping strategies more frequently, specifically those involving praying and catastrophizing. These differences in coping may help to explain race differences in the pain experience.

      Key words

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