Social Status Influences Pain Recovery

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Research from a New South Wales multidisciplinary pain clinic found that socioeconomicstatus is a bigger influence on patients'recovery from chronic pain, comparedwith the nature of the health care they receive. Lynette Guy, a physiotherapist and PhDstudent in Griffith's School of Public Health, said that communication with health professionalswas also important in shaping how patients adjusted to an injury.

After in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 40 staff and 40 patients fromthe pain clinic, Guy found patients with ongoing pain from a musculoskeletal injury fell into 1of 3 groups. The research revealed that those participants who do better after a work-relatedinjury or car accident tended to be in higher socioeconomic brackets. She also noted thatthey were better able to self-manage their situation because "they are empowered by havinggreater choice over finding other treatment and rehabilitation options, and are more ableto find other jobs and regain an income."

The second group of patients became disheartened and disempowered by the healthcare system when therapies failed to help their pain. This group did not have theresources to seek other help or support. The third group of patients felt seeking justicethrough compensation and litigation was their main objective. Oftentimes, they believedthat treating practitioners, solicitors, and insurers did not believe their story or symptoms.Guy concluded that better support structures for injured individuals from lower incomegroups were needed. Greater awareness of how interactions with treating practitionerscan play a role in patient outcomes is also recommended.