Black People Receive Low-Dose Pain Relief Medicines in the US (Study)

low-dose pain relief medicines
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

A recent study observed inequity in the dose of pain relief medicines prescribed among black and white people in the United States. Even though the prescriptions for pain relief are the same for both races, the dosage varies for black and white patients.

This study appeared recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The lead author of the study, Nancy Morden discussed the inequity towards black people. She said that this research likely reflects a racial bias in the healthcare system of the US. Meanwhile, she hopes that this study will help initiate a dialogue to address the difference in the prescription of pain relief medicines.

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The team of researchers behind this study looked at 310 different healthcare systems. These healthcare bodies cater to both white and black patients and provide them the primary care. According to the researchers, they analyzed the data of both black and white patients. They found that both receive the same number of prescriptions for pain relief. However, the difference arises in the dosage prescribed to both groups.

The researchers found that 90% of the healthcare systems provided a higher dosage of pain relief medicines to white patients. This data is in comparison to the dosage given to black patients. Also, most of these healthcare systems provided a 15% higher dosage of pain relief to white patients.

Now, the question arises- Why does this racial disparity exist in the healthcare system when it comes to the dosage of pain relief medicines?

Some health experts believe that the health care providers hold the same racial bias against black people as the rest of the US population. Meanwhile, some experts also suggest that this difference could exist because of the stereotypes associated with black people.

Many people believe that black people generally have a higher pain tolerance. This stereotype may lead healthcare professionals to recommend low-dose pain killers to these people. However, it does not justify the fact that nearly 90% of the healthcare providers do not give as much pain relief to these individuals as the white people.

According to the senior author of this study, Dr. Ellen Mera, this inequity exists because of the decentralized health care system of the US. She mentioned that the data related to the inequity in the healthcare system does not do much for black people.

The officials did not address the racial gaps in health care in the past decade. They also did not assign any entity to gather data from medical receipts of black patients. Therefore, they did not do much to bring system-level change in the healthcare department.

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The authors of this study request the physicians and healthcare providers to address the racial inequity in their system. According to the researchers, this study can help drive the discussion about racial bias in the health care system. Also, it will help the health system administrations and other organizations to talk about the root cause behind this disparity.

The authors of this study mention that the skin color of a person should not stand between them receiving proper care. In addition, every person should receive the same dosage of pain relief medicines from their healthcare provider, no matter their race and skin color.