Race, Ethnicity, and Gender Impact Opioid Prescription Rates

May 2, 2022

Marginalized groups have long faced disparate health outcomes from outgroups, including the rate of opioid prescriptions. Systemic oppression and ignorance about Black Americans lead to their being prescribed pain medication at 22% the rate of their White counterparts. Meanwhile, transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people tend to be overprescribed opioids, contributing to higher prescription drug misuse than the general public. In a new Health Affairs article, Rachel Sadoff explains how different axes of marginalization can lead to opposing outcomes.

According to Sadoff, “Without universal, enforceable guidelines for measuring pain, providers’ racial/ethnic biases—including the ‘superhumanization’ of Black people—lead them to underestimate patients’ distress and withhold much-needed remedies. A 2016 study of more than 400 medical students in Virginia, for example, found that those who held false beliefs about racial biology ‘rated the Black (versus White) patient’s pain as lower and made less accurate treatment recommendations.’”

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(Source: Health Affairs, April 29th, 2022)

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