A new research study has found that LGBTQadults suffer greater levels of pain when compared to straight people. Western sociology instructor Anna Zajacova suggests that pain can be used as a holistic indicator of mental and physical health on a global scale. Researchers discovered that mental distress was the one factor that was most closely linked to greater prevalence of pain among LGBTQ+ communities, whereas the socioeconomic status of individuals and their health were only marginally relevant. The authors suggest that the discrimination and stigmatization that are faced to LGBTQ+ individuals may increase their likelihood of suffering, and urge further studies to comprehend and reduce the disparities.

Western University sociology professor claims that pain could be used as an overall holistic indicator of psychological and physical health on a larger scale.

A new study looking at data from the 2013 to the year 2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) has revealed that the percentage of patients who have reported being in pain is significantly higher in LGBTQ adults than those who are straight.

Western sociology instructor Anna Zajacova said pain has not been examined from a societal perspective in the past since it was thought to be a signification of something different.

“However chronic pain is becoming recognized as a disease that is a condition in and of itself. It’s a significant condition due to its significant burden on the population and huge impact on individuals’ health and quality of life” said Zajacova who is a co-author of the study, which was published recently by the Journal of “Pain”. “In the end, we see pain as a holistic indicator of both physical and mental wellbeing at the level of the population.”

The study was conducted by scientists from Western The Western University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Michigan State University, Ohio State University and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The study found LGBTQadult (those who self-identified on the National Health Interview Survey as bisexual, gay, lesbian or “something other than that”) were significantly more likely to experience greater levels of pain.

The study found that, in comparison to straight adults, gay and lesbians were 47 percent more likely to suffer from rate of pain and 33 percent greater prevalence of chronic pain. Bisexual adults had a 105 percent greater rate of pain and a 88 percent greater frequency of chronic pain and those who were identified as “something other than” in the survey were 133 percent more likely to have a frequency of pain and an 89 percent greater frequency in chronic pain.

In addition to the other variables that were examined, the one that was most significantly associated with a higher rate of suffering in LGBTQ+ groups was psychological distress. The socioeconomic status of the population and health care covariates had only minor roles that weren’t statistically significant.

“These results highlight that the significance of psychological influences and the support that may be the main cause of the variances,” Zajacova said.

The authors point out that their findings suggest that the discrimination and stigma endured by those belonging to these groups can make them more prone to suffering. They also called for further studies to gain a better understanding of the pain disparities based on sexual identity with the ultimate aim of removing disparities and reducing the pain in order to improve health and overall well-being.

The authors insist that this kind method of collecting data is crucial to be considered in the Canadian context, too.

“I think we may find like-minded patterns within Canada despite the fact that it is better in acceptance sociolegal of LGBTQadults, since the patterns we’re seeing seem to suggest psychological issues driving the greater prevalence of pain” Zajacova said.

The results used in this analysis were collected from adults ranging in age from 18-64 who took part in the 2013-2018 cycles in the NHIS. They also answered questions on chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined by the survey as experiencing pain all day or on a regular basis over the last 3 months (2013-2015 in 2018 and 2013) or for six months (2016 and 2017) and having pain in three or more places (defined as a positive response to questions regarding at least three of these: lower-back pain, neck pain migraines or severe headaches or jaw pain, facial or facial or discomfort, as well as ongoing joint discomfort). The data were also gathered regarding a range of other variables, including socioeconomic status, health habits and mental stress.

Referred to as “Chronic discomfort among U.S. LGBT adults who are bisexual, gay, lesbian or “something else”” written by Anna Zajacova, Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk, Hui Liu, Rin Reczek, Richard L Nahin, 30 March 2023. Pain.

DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002891