The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a glaring light on health care disparities—roadblocks or unequal treatment faced by individuals because of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, lack of health literacy, age, rural residency, or other factors.
Some clinicians still believe certain minorities experience less pain. Women’s pain is understudied and disbelieved. Men hesitate to seek out treatment because of the stigma attached to their health issues. LGBTQ+ individuals are misgendered and stigmatized by medical professionals. Young children and older folks have their pain brushed aside. Individuals with low incomes are treated differently when they seek out care. Those living in rural areas face greater challenges when they need specialized treatment.
As you read this issue, you’ll meet people who are working to fix these problems. You’ll get to know 12 incredible people living with pain who have faced health care disparities. You will meet individuals using their scientific backgrounds to advocate for better health, and people who have turned their pain into a calling to improve health outcomes for all.
Health care disparities are in the spotlight, and now is the time to move past lip service. Please join us in not looking away, not letting this slide, and not forgetting about the long-rooted disparities that block so many people from accessing the health care and treatment they need and deserve. The U.S. Pain Foundation will continue to advocate for those who need it—and to support and stand with the individuals and organizations tirelessly laboring in so many ways to eliminate these disparities.