Program Offers Needed Resource to Educate and Empower Hispanics to Help Address Cultural and Language Barriers Associated with Pain Management

The American Pain Foundation (APF) today announced the launch of “Explain Your Pain,” (Describa Su Dolar) an educational initiative designed to help educate Hispanic Americans about chronic pain and foster improved dialogue between people with pain and their health care providers.  A growing body of research demonstrates that minorities, including Hispanics, are less likely to have access to pain management services and treatments, have their pain documented by health care providers or receive pain medications compared to other patient populations. Many Hispanic Americans are further burdened by language barriers and cultural beliefs about pain.

Results from the Chronic Pain in America survey estimate that 9 percent of adult Americans suffer from moderate to severe non-cancer related chronic pain. Chronic pain is ongoing or recurrent pain that lasts beyond the usual course of an acute illness or injury or more than three to six months, and negatively affects a person’s well-being. If untreated or undertreated, pain can negatively impact a person’s quality of life and make daily activities difficult. There can be physical and emotional impacts from chronic pain.  Unfortunately, many people with pain are uncomfortable acknowledging and accepting their condition, and therefore fail to discuss the topic with their health care provider.

For Hispanic Americans, cultural biases may compound their attitude about pain and ultimately impact their treatment.  In one study of Hispanics and African Americans with cancer pain, 80 percent of patients waited until their pain severity was a 10 on a 10-point scale before calling their oncology clinic or health care provider.

“Cultural and social barriers may prevent Hispanics from complaining about their pain to physicians because some may consider it a sign of weakness or others may not understand the appropriate threshold when their pain should be considered chronic and serious.  This can lead to unnecessary suffering,” explained Ricardo Vallejo, M.D., director of research at Millennium Pain Center in Bloomington, Ill. “When these patients seek medical advice, they should work with their health care provider to map out a treatment plan that lessens the pain, improves functioning and enhances their quality of life.  We often use a combination of treatments to help manage a person’s chronic pain.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 50.5 million Hispanics living in the United States  and they are the largest growing ethnic group in the country.

At the centerpiece of “Explain Your Pain” is a brochure, available in both Spanish and English, which is designed to help promote an effective dialogue between people with pain and their health care providers.   The brochure can be downloaded at (English) or (Spanish).  It is also available at select health care provider offices nationwide and at events sponsored by the American Pain Foundation.

Pain is complex and varies with each individual, so it’s important that people with pain work closely with their health care providers to understand all aspects of their pain.  A treatment plan should meet a person’s specific condition, needs and lifestyle.

“Explain Your Pain” is made possible with support from Endo Pharmaceuticals.

For more information about the campaign, visit (English) or (Spanish)

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