Sociodemographic Differences in Patient-Reported Pain and Pain Management of Patients With Head and Neck Cancer in a Community Oncology Setting

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JCO Oncol Pract


PURPOSE: While pain is prevalent among survivors of head and neck cancer (HNC), there is a lack of data on pain management in the community oncology setting. We described sociodemographic correlates and disparities associated with patient-reported pain among patients with HNC.

METHODS: We used the 2017-2021 nationwide community oncology data set from Navigating Cancer, which included electronic patient-reported outcomes. We identified a retrospective cohort of patients diagnosed with HNC (N = 25,572), with ≥ 1 patient-reported pain event. We adjusted for demographic (sex, age, smoking history, marital status) and clinical (cancer site) factors associated with pain reporting and pain resolution by new pain prescription on the basis of race (White v non-White patients), using multivariate logistic regression models.

RESULTS: Our analytic cohort included 2,331 patients, 90.58% White, 58.62% married, with an average age of 66.47 years. Of these, 857 patients (36.76%) reported ≥ 1 pain event during study period. Mean resolution time (in minutes) for pain incidents was significantly longer for White patients than non-White patients (99.6 ± 3.2 v 74.9 ± 7.2, P < .05). After adjusting for covariates, smoking was associated with a 25% increased odds of reporting pain incidents (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.25; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.52). There was no statistically significant difference in odds of pain reporting between White versus non-White patients (aOR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.73 to 1.30). However, White patients were significantly more likely to receive new prescription for pain than non-White patients (aOR, 2.52; 95% CI, 1.09 to 5.86).

CONCLUSION: We found racial differences in patient-reported pain management, with White patients significantly more likely to receive new pain prescriptions. As pain management is a mainstay in cancer care, equity in pain management is critical to optimize quality of life for patients with HNC.

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ePub ahead of print

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