URMC study shows socioeconomic status determines who gets pain meds


Anyone who has experienced severe pain or pain that becomes debilitating and chronic knows that pain medications can play an important role in recuperating and returning to a normal life. But concerns about narcotic abuse, also a serious health problem in the US, cause many physicians to be reluctant about prescribing these types of medications.

And a new study by the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that there is an additional set of issues at work. If you’re white and affluent, you are more likely to receive opioid drugs for pain relief than if you are black, Hispanic, poor, or have less education, according to the URMC study, which was recently reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Analyzing data of more than 50,000 visits to about 1,400 emergency room departments showed that medications like Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet were less likely to be prescribed to patients of color And they were less likely to be prescribed to people who live in poor neighborhoods compared to people who live in more affluent areas.

Researchers already knew that racial and ethnic disparities existed, but the URMC study may be the first that discovered socioeconomic status, such as poverty, income, and education levels, also determine who receives opioid pain prescriptions.