Pain Communication in Ethnically Concordant and Discordant Dyads

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Hsieh, Annie Yi-Cheng
Pain , Ethnicity
While ethnicity is often regarded as a factor in pain experience and expression, ethnic pain research has almost exclusively focused on the intrapersonal dimension of the pain experience and failed to recognize the complex interpersonal nature of the pain experience. The Sociocommunications Model of Pain (Craig, 2009; Hadjistavropoulos & Craig, 2002; Hadjistavropoulos, Craig, & Fuchs-Lacelle, 2004) states that pain behaviours serve as both expressions of the inner experience and communications to other people, and the observer must take into account the social contexts in which the pain expression and report occur. Research in the recent decade has documented reliable evidence that ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately from undertreatment of pain compared to nonminority, but studies examining factors that contribute to such disparities have seldom directly considered the sociocultural context in which the pain experience and assessment take place. This dissertation has two studies. The primary objective of Study 1 is to compare pain report and behaviours in an ethnically concordant versus discordant environment. The primary objective of Study 2 is to investigate the impact of ethnic concordance on the accuracy of observer’s assessment of pain. The Chinese ethnic group was chosen as the focus of the present research because it is the largest ethnic group in Canada and also this group has received little attention in ethnic pain research. Overall, results indicate that ethnic concordance between the person in pain and the observer would influence the sufferer’s pain expression and the observer’s pain assessment. The findings support the Sociocommunications Models of Pain and suggest the importance of considering the interpersonal dimension of the pain experience.
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