The effect of perceived racial discrimination on bodily pain among older African American men

Diana J. Burgess, Joseph Grill, Siamak Noorbaloochi, Joan M. Griffin, Jennifer Ricards, Michelle Van Ryn, Melissa R. Partin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Objectives. We examined the extent to which experiences of racial discrimination are associated with bodily pain reported by African American men. Methods. The study sample consisted of 393 African American male veterans who responded to a national survey of patients aged 50-75 who received care from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Veterans were surveyed by mail, with a telephone follow-up. The response rate for African Americans in the sample was 60.5%. Pain (assessed using the bodily pain subscale of the 36-item short-form health survey), experiences of discrimination, employment, education, and income were obtained through the survey. Age, race, and mental health comorbidities were obtained from VA administrative data. Multiple regression analysis adjusting for item non-response (via imputation) and unit non-response (via propensity scores and weighting) was used to assess the association between racial discrimination and likelihood of experiencing moderate or severe pain over the past 4 weeks. Results. Experiences of racial discrimination were associated with greater bodily pain (β = -0.25, P < 0.0001), even after controlling for socioeconomic and health-related characteristics. Conclusion. Perceived racial discrimination was associated with greater pain among a sample of older African American male patients in the VA. Additional research is needed to replicate this finding among other populations of African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1341-1352
Number of pages12
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009


  • African americans
  • Elderly
  • Pain
  • Perceived discrimination
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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