September 10 (UPI)—— A study published on Friday by the JAMA Health Forum found that people of color with low back pain are less likely than whites to receive prescription opioid painkillers from their doctors.
Data shows that between 2007 and 2014, an average of 12% of white patients received prescriptions for opioid painkillers in the first year of low back pain.
In contrast, the researchers say, during the same period, approximately 11% of Hispanic patients, 10% of black patients, and 9% of Asian or Pacific Islander patients took these drugs in the first year of low back pain.
The researchers said that during the period covered by the analysis, there was “little knowledge” about the potential risks (including addiction) associated with prescription opioid use.
They said the results of the study indicate that “there may be inequality in pain treatment based on race” when these drugs are considered the most effective way to treat pain.
“At the peak of the opioid epidemic, when the dangers of opioids were not as widely known as they are today, doctors seemed to treat the pain of ethnic minority patients differently from that of white patients,” study co-author Dr. Dan P. Ly said. Tell UPI in an email.
“I worry and suspect that doctors pay more attention to the pain of white patients, or do not pay much attention to the pain of ethnic minority patients, or that doctors believe that their white patients are unlikely to abuse opioids,” said Ly, an assistant professor of internal medicine. At the University of California, Los Angeles.
In 2020, the number of deaths from drug overdose in the United States increased by 30%, mainly due to the misuse and abuse of opioid painkillers.
According to data from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, research has shown that prescription opioids are addictive and they have been overused in the treatment of pain.
Therefore, in recent years, many professional associations, including the American Academy of Pain Medicine, have issued guidelines aimed at restricting improper opioid prescriptions, especially guidelines for chronic pain diseases (such as low back pain).
However, they believe that these drugs should still be used when the patient’s pain does not respond to other therapies.
In this study, Ly and his colleagues reviewed the patient records of nearly 275,000 adult patients who received new treatments for low back pain in the United States by more than 63,000 doctors between 2007 and 2014.
Of the patients included in the analysis, 81% were white, 8% were Hispanic, 6% were black, and 6% were Asian or Pacific Islander.
The data shows that compared to white patients, many doctors in the analysis are more likely to prescribe opioid alternatives, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, for racial or minority patients.
Researchers say that 25% to 30% of people of color have received prescriptions for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for new low back pain, compared with about 23% of white patients.
In contrast, while nearly 12% of white patients receive prescription opioid painkillers, less than 11% of the time these options are available to people of color.
Among patients with severe or persistent pain (measured by seeing a doctor five or more times a year), 36% of white patients received opioids, while approximately 30% of black patients and 21% of Asian or Pacific islands Percentage of Min-patients and 24 Hispanic patients.
They say that perhaps because of this, white patients with new low back pain are more than three times more likely to use opioids for a long time than patients of color.
“In hindsight, the fact that more and more white patients use opioids for a long time is dangerous. This fact does not exempt doctors from the responsibility of differentiated treatment of pain,” Ly said.