Racial disparity in analgesic treatment for ED patients with abdominal or back pain

Angela M Mills, Frances S Shofer, Ann K Boulis, Daniel N Holena, Stephanie B Abbuhl
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2011, 29 (7): 752-6

OBJECTIVE: Research on how race affects access to analgesia in the emergency department (ED) has yielded conflicting results. We assessed whether patient race affects analgesia administration for patients presenting with back or abdominal pain.

METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study of adults who presented to 2 urban EDs with back or abdominal pain for a 4-year period. To assess differences in analgesia administration and time to analgesia between races, Fisher exact and Wilcoxon rank sum test were used, respectively. Relative risk regression was used to adjust for potential confounders.

RESULTS: Of 20,125 patients included (mean age, 42 years; 64% female; 75% black; mean pain score, 7.5), 6218 (31%) had back pain and 13,907 (69%) abdominal pain. Overall, 12,109 patients (60%) received any analgesia and 8475 (42%) received opiates. Comparing nonwhite (77 %) to white patients (23%), nonwhites were more likely to report severe pain (pain score, 9-10) (42% vs 36%; P < .0001) yet less likely to receive any analgesia (59% vs 66%; P < .0001) and less likely to receive an opiate (39% vs 51%; P < .0001). After controlling for age, sex, presenting complaint, triage class, admission, and severe pain, white patients were still 10% more likely to receive opiates (relative risk, 1.10; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.13). Of patients who received analgesia, nonwhites waited longer for opiate analgesia (median time, 98 vs 90 minutes; P = .004).

CONCLUSIONS: After controlling for potential confounders, nonwhite patients who presented to the ED for abdominal or back pain were less likely than whites to receive analgesia and waited longer for their opiate medication.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"