Non-Operative Pain among Non-Hispanic White and Mexican-American Women with Disabilities

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Tracie C. Harrison, PhD, RN, FNP
School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe the types of pain experienced by Mexican American and Non-Hispanic White women with mobility impairments.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to list different ways the women understand and treat their pain.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the pain experiences of community residing Mexican American and Non-Hispanic White women with mobility impairments.  

Design: Participants were part of an ongoing mixed-method ethnographic study of health disparities in disablement. Exploratory descriptive analysis of pain experiences was done using qualitative and quantitative data.

Sample:  A total of 16 Non-Hispanic White and 15 Mexican American women completed questionnaires and in-depth interviews. Participants ranged in age from 56 to 74, formal education ranged from 8 to 18 years, and the majority was unemployed and unmarried. The women began work at age 10 years to 35 years and with an average income of less than $25,000/year.  The women were all postmenopausal and reported a weight ranging from 105 to 280 pounds.  

Methods: Thematic qualitative analysis of pain experiences and descriptive statistics of demographics, pain, function, impairment and disability surveys were done describing and comparing Mexican American and Non-Hispanic White women.

Results: The themes related to their pain experiences were Crying all the Time; The Driving Issue; and Don’t Fall in Love with that Pain. The Mexican American women and the Non-Hispanic White women reported similar levels of quantitative pain, impairment, co-morbidity and disability.

Conclusion: The Non-Hispanic White women frequenlty discussed their pain experiences as medical phenomenon with treatment based primarily within that paradigm. Mexican American women discussed pain as a both a medical and an emotional phenomenon with treatment being multi-faceted. Both groups of women pushed themselves to go beyond their pain and accomplish their goals; categorically, however their treatment goals were different.

Acknowledgement: Support for the study provided by a grant from NIH/NINR 1 R01 NR010360.