For Hispanic Adults in the United States, Pain Often Varies by Ancestral Country of Origin

Hep C risk varies among Hispanics
Hep C risk varies among Hispanics
The researcher examined pain status based on Hispanic ancestry and race to provide a baseline for continuing surveillance research on pain, with the eventual goal of eliminating disparities in pain assessment and treatment.

 In Hispanic adults in the United States, pain type and severity vary by ancestral country of origin, with people of Puerto Rican ancestry reporting more chronic, severe, and debilitating pain compared with those of Mexican ancestry, according to a study in The Journal of Pain.

The study was an analysis of data from the 2010 to 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Sample Adult Core and the Adult Functioning and Disability (AFD) Supplement. Data for a total of 84,664 US adults who were surveyed about their pain status within the last 3 months and 59,770 who were surveyed about their pain status within the last 6 months were included in this analysis.

Participants were of Cuban, Central or South American, Dominican, or Mexican descent. The researcher evaluated the association between pain and pain characteristics with ethnicity and race in multivariable logistic regression analyses.

When holding racial identity constant, the prevalence of chronic pain was higher in White Puerto Rican (23.75%) vs White Mexican (12.87%) participants. Additionally, the prevalence of high-impact chronic pain (HICP) was higher in White Puerto Rican (13.17%) vs White Cuban (3.92%) participants.

Groups that were less likely to report category 3 to 4 pain included White Central or South American (odds ratio [OR], 0.58; 99.17% CI, 0.39-0.85) and White Mexican (OR, 0.68; 99.17% CI, 0.45-0.91) groups compared with White Puerto Rican groups.

White non-Hispanic individuals had significantly reduced odds of HICP compared with White Puerto Ricans (OR, 0.60; 99.17% CL, 0.41-0.90). Approximately 10.18% of Asian Mexicans reported category 3 to 4 pain vs 15.78% of Black Mexicans, while 13.67% of White Dominicans reported chronic pain vs 24.57% of Black Dominicans. Also, Native American/Alaskan Native non-Hispanic participants had significantly increased odds of HICP (OR, 1.86; 99.17% CI, 1.25-2.79) vs participants who identified as White Non-Hispanic.

Limitations of this study included its cross-sectional nature and the lack of assessments for possible factors that fueled the differences in pain reporting among the Hispanic subpopulations.

The researchers noted that they did observe noticeable differences in education and health insurance coverage across the Hispanic subpopulations and suggested that these data, if available, could “help policy makers and health care providers identify and treat the most underserved Hispanic populations.”


Nahin RL. Pain prevalence, chronicity and impact within subpopulations based on both Hispanic ancestry and race: United States, 2010-2017. J Pain. Published online February 23, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2021.02.006