Neighborhood Disadvantage Is Associated with Temporal Lobe Cortical Thickness in Adults with Chronic Knee Pain: Sociodemographic Differences

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      Findings from a multi-site study conducted by our research team previously revealed that non-Hispanic Black (NHB) adults with high chronic pain stage have thinner temporal cortex relative to their non-Hispanic White (NHW) counterparts with knee pain. Groups differ on a number of neurobiologically relevant socio/environmental factors. Mounting evidence indicates that health disparities are tied to socioeconomic resources, or lack thereof. Neighborhood disadvantage is associated with poor chronic pain outcomes and neurodegeneration. In this follow-up to our prior work, the objective was to determine whether neighborhood disadvantage was associated with chronic pain stage and temporal lobe cortical thickness, and whether these associations differed by sociodemographics. Participants included 147 community-dwelling adults between 45 and 85 years of age who identified their ethnicity/race as either NHB (N=72) or NHW (N=75). Participants had or were at risk of having knee osteoarthritis; all reported knee pain. Neighborhood disadvantage was calculated from participants’ primary zip code using Neighborhood Atlas. Chronic pain stage (FITT) was assessed using the Graded Chronic Pain Scale, and all participants completed MRI (3T Philips) for determination of temporal lobe cortical thickness. Results indicated sociodemographic group moderated the strength and direction of association between neighborhood disadvantage and temporal lobe cortical thickness (p = .039). Specifically, it was found that greater neighborhood disadvantage significantly associated with thinner temporal cortex in NHW (t=-2.07, p = .041) but not in NHB participants (t=.960, p = .339). Chronic pain stage was not significantly associated with neighborhood disadvantage in NHW (p=.889) or NHB (p=.675). These findings underscore the importance of considering access to socioeconomic resources when examining sociodemographic differences or health disparities in chronic pain and brain structure. Further investigations are needed to appreciate temporal factors and other stress influences that contribute to group differences in brain structure. NIH/NIA Grants R01AG054370 (KTS) & R01AG054370-05S1 (JJT, KTS); R37AG033906 (RBF) and UF CTSA Grant UL1TR001427 and UAB CTSA Grant UL1TR001417 from the NIH Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; NCATS grant UL1 TR000064; National Science Foundation Cooperative Agreement No. DMR-1644779 and the State of Florida.
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