A recent study cautions that the color of the skin may influence how the headache is cured.
According to the researchers, the same number of white, Black, and Hispanic Americans, roughly 15%, suffer from severe headaches and migraines.
Racism Plays A Role In Migraine Treatments
However, according to the current study, which was conducted by 16 headache disorder experts, Black men are far less likely to receive headache treatment; white children are three times more likely to undergo hospital imaging for their condition than children of other races; and Black and Hispanic patients are 25% and 50% less likely, respectively, to receive a migraine diagnosis than white patients.
While migraine and severe headache diseases are virtually equally frequent among white, African American, and Hispanic people, Dr. Jessica Kiarashi, the study’s author, emphasized that discrepancies remain.
Many of these inequities are exacerbated by institutional or systemic racism, according to Kiarashi, an assistant professor of neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. While there are methods that may be taken to address and correct imbalances, our society requires a profound cultural revolution, especially in the sphere of health care.
To investigate the problem, the research team combed through previously published headache literature.
According to their findings, although 46 percent of Black patients receive migraine treatment, 72 percent of white patients do.
Black Americans are also significantly less likely than white individuals to be diagnosed with a headache: 47 percent vs. 70 percent. According to the research, black individuals are equally less likely than white patients to receive a prescription for migraine medicine (14 percent vs. 37 percent).
As a result, untreated headache problems in Black Americans result in more headaches over time, more intense pain, and a worse quality of life.
The researchers also discovered that Hispanics are 50% less likely than white patients to be diagnosed with a migraine and are 50% less likely to be prescribed headache medication while seeking care in an outpatient environment.
The researchers discovered a racial disparity among youngsters suffering from headaches. Non-white children and adolescents, for example, were found to be considerably less likely than white children and adolescents to be administered medicine for an intense headache. Furthermore, black and Hispanic children were less likely than white children to be evaluated in an emergency room for a sports-related head injury and get a concussion diagnosis.
However, the study team discovered that race is not the only factor influencing headache treatment discrepancies. Living in extreme poverty, for example, has been related to an increased incidence of migraines. Furthermore, low-income and uninsured individuals were less likely to receive treatment for acute migraines, increasing the chance of developing a chronic condition.
The expert panel also stated that due to a shortage of experts, people in rural locations in the United States were less likely to receive headache therapy. While big urban centers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic have many headache education programs and physicians, the same is not true in other parts of the country, such as the Western and Plain state’s areas.
Kiarashi and her colleagues blamed the headache treatment discrepancy on racial prejudice and unequal insurance coverage, as well as access concerns, in research published online June 9 in Neurology.
Andrea Roberts, who is a senior research scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, is unsurprised by any of this.
Unfortunately, gaps in health care exist in the United States across groups with distinct minority racial identities and socioeconomic levels, according to Roberts.
As a result, a black person presenting to the emergency department with a headache is considerably less likely than a white person in the same circumstances to obtain the right diagnostic tests and medicine, she noted.
So, what can be done to bridge the divide?
For example, according to Roberts, health care clinicians can check their treatment records to better understand and manage their performance in this area. Similarly, health insurers may establish whether practices and practitioners are undertreating minorities, which she believes is in their best interests because undertreatment in the near run may lead to considerably higher long-term healthcare expenses.
Furthermore, additional health care practitioners from underrepresented groups must be recruited, according to Roberts. This, of course, is in addition to trying to address the underlying racism and socioeconomic disparities that contribute to a greater frequency of sickness, including headaches, among minorities in the United States.