African Americans May Not Seek Pain Managment For Cancer
An important question was asked many years ago: Why do so many people from various backgrounds, especially African Americans, not seek cancer care that is available to the population at large?
In 1987, The Drew-Meharry-Morehouse Consortium Cancer Center was instituted for the purpose of conducting research to reduce “the high incidence and mortality from cancer in the African-American population (focused mostly in Los Angeles, Nashville, and Atlanta. An article in the Winter 2008 edition of The Pain Practitioner, the journal for the American Academy of Pain Management, by Debra Nelson-Hogan, contained information from an interview with the former administrator, Dr. Patricia Matthews-Juarez, Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and Associate Vice-President, Office of Faculty Affairs and Development at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Matthews-Juarez cites several reasons why large numbers of people from various backgrounds, in this case specifically African Americans, do not seek cancer care.
* Lack of Trust – in the provider
* Lack of Respect – from the provider and the health care environment
* Racism and Discrimination – e.g., waiting longer for appointments
* Fatalism – belief that “God will take care of it”
* Lack of Pain Management – “notion that African Americans have higher pain thresholds
* Lack of Reliable Information about Resources for Cancer Care
Social work studies conducted in the 1960’s and 1970’s indicated that patients would tend to stay in treatment longer if the treating health care practitioners either looked like them or showed real empathy for their plight. In addition, historically, pain management has not been seen as a science nor as an urgent treatment necessity. In 2000, The Office of Minority Health at the Health Resources and Services Administration, (HRSA), encouraged the creation of the first guide for healthcare practitioners: Cultural Competence in Cancer Care: A Health Care Professional Passport. Although the role of culture in pain management and disease treatment is still often overlooked, there has been an increasing level of awareness and cultural sensitivity in this country.
The solution to creating treatment parity among different ethnic groups, including the socioeconomically underpriviledged is collaboration, collaboration among health facilities, health organizations, medical teaching institutions, professional health care providers and the public at large. We’ve come a long way but there is still a long way to go.…