Disparities in Pain Care Treatment In The Socioeconomic World | The Doctor Weighs In

The Doctor Weighs In
11 min readJun 10, 2021

By Allen W. Burton, M.D.

Digital and telehealth are potential solutions for many, helping bridge the divide for those who have few options because of socioeconomic factors.


Conceptually, over our lifetime we all gain some understanding and insights into pain. But for a person living with pain, it can seem as if the world doesn’t understand.

And the truth is, sometimes the world doesn’t understand.

Even for medical professionals, whose primary role is to provide care, chronic pain can be difficult to appreciate. Because chronic pain is measured subjectively and not well understood, physicians historically viewed chronic pain as a characterological flaw rather than a “true” disease. While we have come a long way in understanding chronic pain states from a pathophysiologic basis, we still have a long way to go. A person’s socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and gender may disproportionally expose them to this historical bias in viewing their pain as more “psychosomatic” or less legitimate, thereby subjecting them to disparities in receiving appropriate pain care.

We know, for example, that racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive adequate treatment for…



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