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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pain Perception in Latino vs. Caucasian and Male vs. Female Patients: Is There Really a Difference?


Introduction: Pain is a common emergency department (ED) complaint. It is important tounderstand the differences in pain perception among different ethnic and demographic populations.

Methods: We applied a standardized painful stimulus to Caucasian and Latino adult patients todetermine whether the level of pain reported differed depending on ethnicity (N=100; 50 Caucasian[C], 50 Latino [L] patients) and gender (N=100; 59 female, 41 male). Patients had an initial painscore of 0 or 1. A blood pressure cuff was inflated 20 mm HG above the patient’s systolic bloodpressure and held for three minutes. Pain scores, using both a 10-cm visual analog scale (VAS) anda five-point Likert scale, were taken at the point of maximal stimulus (2 minutes 50 seconds afterinflation), and at one- and two-minute intervals post deflation.

Results: There was a statistically significant difference between the Likert scale scores of Caucasianand Latino patients at 2min 50sec (mean rank: 4.35 [C] vs. 5.75 [L], p<0.01), but not on the VAS(mean value: 2.94 [C] vs. 3.46 [L], p=0.255). Women had a higher perception of pain than males at2min 50sec on the VAS (mean value: 3.86 [F] vs. 2.24 [M], p<0.0001), and the Likert scale (meanrank: 5.63 [F] vs. 4.21 [M], p<0.01).

Conclusion: Latinos and women report greater pain with a standardized pain stimulus as comparedto Caucasians and men.

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