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Study shows household wealth is strong predictor of chronic pain


A nationally representative survey found that chronic pain could be predicted with a high degree of accuracy by household wealth.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that long term, debilitating pain is concentrated among the poorest Americans.

Mary Janevic is a study author. She said wealth is a strong predictor of whether or not a person develops chronic pain.

“Your socioeconomic status affects how likely you are to develop chronic pain in the first place and that has a lot to do with your overall health, which is also determined partly by socioeconomic status.”

Janevic said once chronic pain develops, treatment options are limited by wealth.

“I think that once pain develops acute pain or chronic pain, people who have fewer resources have less ability to treat and manage that pain.”

Janevic said a breakdown in chronic pain was also, unsurprisingly, found along racial lines.

“We did find that African American’s were more affected by chronic pain across domain. A long history of housing segregation and all kinds of institutional discrimination have prevented African Americans and hispanics from accumulating wealth the way white Americans have accumulated.”

Janevic said pain often has a doubling effect on resources: those with less wealth are more likely to develop chronic health problems which leads them to miss more work and give them fewer resources to deal with pain.

She said the opioid epidemic should reveal just how many people are struggling with long term pain and don’t know how to deal with it.

Janevic said the study reveals the importance of affordable and quality healthcare to make sure poorer Americans can still get the care they need.