Friday, May 02, 2008

More Pain For Those On Lower Incomes And Less Educated

Lots of people live with pain ...

"A novel study that attempts to paint the most accurate and detailed description yet of how Americans experience pain has found that a significant portion of the population -- 28 percent -- are in pain at any given moment and those with less education and lower income spend more of their time in pain. Those in pain are less likely to work or socialize with others and are more inclined to watch television than the pain-free.

The study, which appears in the May 3 issue of The Lancet, was prepared by Alan Krueger, a professor of economics at Princeton University, and Arthur Stone, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stony Brook University. The work is the first of its type, according to the authors, to quantify a "pain gap" in American society, with the "have-nots" suffering a disproportionate amount in relation to the "haves."

"To a significant extent, pain does divide the classes," said Krueger, the Bendheim Professor in Economics and Public Policy. "And just how the levels of pain vary among people and across activities -- that has never been found before until now."

Participants with less than a high school degree were found to report twice the average pain rating throughout the day as did college graduates. The researchers also found the average pain rating to be twice as high for those in households with annual incomes below $30,000 as for those in households with incomes above $100,000.

"People in households making less than $30,000 a year spend almost 20 percent of their time in moderate to severe pain, compared with less than 8 percent for those in households with income above $100,000 a year," Krueger said.

Pain imposes considerable costs on the health care system and economy. Americans spend billions of dollars each year on painkillers, more than on any other type of medication. And, when workers are suffering, the resulting lost productivity costs business more than $60 billion annually.

Yet, according to Krueger, the phenomenon of pain -- who is in pain and when -- is not well understood.

The authors constructed a new approach in which participants, a representative group of 4,000 Americans, reported their activities and the occurrence and intensity of pain in a diary survey over a 24-hour period. From the data, the researchers could tie the participants' pain to certain activities, demographic characteristics and times of the day. Pain tended to be more frequent when people received medical care or cared for adults."    (Continued via Medical News Today)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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