Racial Disparities in Postpartum Pain Management

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7 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate racial and ethnic differences in women's postpartum pain scores, inpatient opioid administration, and discharge opioid prescriptions. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all deliveries at a single high-volume tertiary care center from December 1, 2015, through November 30, 2016. Women were included if they self-identified as non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, or Hispanic; were at least 18 years of age; and did not have documented allergies to nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs or morphine. Medical records were queried for three outcomes: 1) patient-reported postpartum pain score (on a scale of 0-10) at discharge (dichotomized less than 5 or 5 or higher), 2) inpatient opioid dosing during postpartum hospitalization (reported as morphine milligram equivalents [MMEs] per postpartum day), and 3) receipt of an opioid prescription at discharge. The associations between each of these outcomes and maternal race-ethnicity were assessed using multivariable logistic regression models with random effects to account for clustering by discharge physician. A sensitivity analysis was conducted in which women of different race and ethnicity were matched using propensity scores. RESULTS: A total of 9,900 postpartum women were eligible for analysis. Compared with non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic and non-Hispanic black women had significantly greater odds of reporting a pain score of 5 or higher (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.61, 95% 1.26-2.06 and aOR 2.18, 95% 1.63-2.91, respectively) but received significantly fewer inpatient MMEs/d (adjusted β -5.03, 95% CI -6.91 to -3.15, and adjusted β -3.54, 95% CI -5.88 to -1.20, respectively). Additionally, Hispanic and non-Hispanic black women were significantly less likely to receive an opioid prescription at discharge (aOR 0.80, 95% CI 0.67 to -0.96 and aOR 0.78, 95% CI 0.62-0.98) compared with non-Hispanic white women. Results of the propensity score analysis largely corroborated those of the primary analysis, with the exception that the difference in inpatient MMEs/d between non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black women did not reach statistical significance. CONCLUSION: Hispanic and non-Hispanic black women experience disparities in pain management in the postpartum setting that cannot be explained by less perceived pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1153
Number of pages7
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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