Black patients are less likely than white patients to receive pain treatment, especially opioids, for both acute and chronic pain. Black men are at higher risk than other populations of being “assumed criminal” regardless of any involvement in criminal activity. Additionally, certain injury and patient characteristics such as intentionality of injury and substance use history may lead providers to suspect criminal involvement and impact pain treatment decisions
In a recent study, led by PISC Trainee, Shoshana Aronowitz, PhD, Aronowitz et al. describe factors that predict receipt of opioid prescription at hospital discharge. They conducted a secondary analysis of data from a cohort of 623 seriously injured Black men treated at trauma centers in Philadelphia between 2013 and 2017. Regression models were used to examine relationships between discharge opioid prescriptions, injury intent, and substance use history. Controlling for age, injury severity, pain score, length of hospital stay (LOS), insurance type, and year of study, receipt of opioids was not impacted by injury intent. However, patients who self-reported substance overuse were less likely to receive opioids than those who did not. Patients with higher injury severity, pain scores, and longer LOS were more likely to receive opioids. Of patients who received opioids, patients with higher pain scores and longer LOS received higher dosages than those with lower scores and shorter LOS. While previous research highlights stigmatization experienced by intentionally injured patients, injury intent did not impact receipt of discharge opioid prescriptions in this study. Aronowitz et al. suggest future research should continue to explore the effect of injury intent on patients’ experiences in the healthcare system.