SES; socioeconomically disadvantaged; pain disparities; qualitative; decision-making; chronic pain


Health Psychology | Pain Management | Public Health


Socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals are at-risk for chronic pain and disparate care. In this qualitative study, we explored providers’ experiences with socioeconomically disadvantaged patients, with a particular focus on providers’: (1) perceptions of socioeconomically disadvantaged patients’ barriers to pain care, (2) attitudes towards this patient population, and (3) chronic pain decisions for these patients. Individual interviews were conducted with twenty-four healthcare providers. Providers discussed several patient-level access barriers, such as not having health insurance, financial constraints, and scheduling difficulties. Providers believed socioeconomically disadvantaged patients were at-risk to misuse prescription opioids and were less comfortable prescribing opioids to these patients. This investigation found that providers perceived numerous patient-level barriers to pain care, expressed suspicion towards these patients, and considered patients’ socioeconomic status when making pain management decisions. Future investigations should examine the extent to which providers’ attitudes influence their actual pain management decisions and lead to treatment disparities for this patient population.