Ethnic group differences in the outcomes of multidisciplinary pain treatment

Brian Merry, Robert R. Edwards, Luis F. Buenaver, Lynanne McGuire, Jennifer A. Haythornthwaite, Daniel M. Doleys, Claudia M. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The aim of this prospective investigation was to evaluate ethnic group differences in pain-related outcomes following multidisciplinary chronic pain treatment. A prospective pre- and post-treatment assessment design was employed to investigate the effects of ethnicity on changes in pain-related variables following completion of a multidisciplinary pain treatment program. Methods: One hundred and fifty-five chronic pain patients participating in a multidisciplinary pain treatment program completed measures of pain and mood both prior to and following the four-week treatment. Primary outcome variables included pain severity, pain-related interference, and depressive symptoms. Results: Baseline differences between African-Americans and Whites were observed for depressive symptoms, but not for pain severity or pain-related interference. Following multidisciplinary pain treatment, both White and African-American patients displayed post-treatment reductions in depressive symptoms and pain-related interference. However, White patients also reported reduced pain severity while African-Americans did not. Conclusions: The treatment approach used in the present study appeared to be less effective in reducing self-reported pain severity in African-American versus White patients, though both groups benefited in terms of reduced depressive symptoms and pain-related interference. Moreover, the observation that improvements in functioning occurred without reductions in pain severity in African-American patients suggests that differences may exist in treatment processes as a function of ethnic group, and will consequently be an important area for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-30
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Musculoskeletal Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Ethnic differences
  • pain outcomes
  • pain treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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