Addressing Health Inequalities – Helping people with chronic pain to report their pain and get the treatment they need
Chronic pain (pain that lasts over three months) exerts an enormous personal and economic burden, affecting more than 30 per cent of people worldwide.
In Greater Manchester, chronic pain is more common, and treated less effectively among South Asian and Black African people, compared to white British people. These differences may partly be explained by people’s cultural backgrounds influencing how they report their pain.
Researchers from our Manchester BRC Musculoskeletal Theme, together with commercial partner uMotif, set out to develop an easy-to-use smartphone app (Manchester Digital Pain Manikin), that would help people with chronic pain track and report their pain, to support diagnosis and the effectiveness of treatments.
During workshops with participants with arthritis or other long-term musculoskeletal pain conditions, the team found that people from South Asian, Black African and White British backgrounds agreed on what aspects of pain were important to report but had different views on how best to report their pain in the app – and the features in the app that would allow them to do this.
For example, Black African participants in the workshop preferred culturally relevant pain terminologies and South Asian participants preferred instructions in their native language.
A researcher perspective:
“By understanding cultural differences in pain self-reporting preferences, we can make the Manchester Digital Pain Manikin more acceptable for everyone, regardless of their background.
“It will help all people with chronic pain to get the treatment they need, which is an important first step towards more equitable pain outcomes.”
Dr Sabine van der Veer, Lead for the Manchester Digital Pain Manikin study and BRC Researcher
A participant perspective:
“With the use of this app, I felt like I was describing my pain to someone. I thought someone is listening to me, someone is understanding it.”
Anonymous, South Asian participant