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Papers of the Week

2022 Jun 21

Acad Emerg Med

Disparities in the emergency department management of pediatric migraine by race, ethnicity, and language preference.


Hartford EA, Blume H, Barry D, Hauser Chatterjee J, Law E
Acad Emerg Med. 2022 Jun 21.
PMID: 35726699.


There are disparities in pain management for children presenting to the emergency department (ED) according to their racial and ethnic backgrounds. It is not known if there are differences in the treatment of pain associated with pediatric migraines by race, ethnicity, and language for care (REaL). We analyzed treatment patterns and outcomes in our ED for acute migraine in pediatric patients by REaL. Retrospective data on treatments, length of stay (LOS), and charges were collected from the electronic medical record for pediatric patients on the ED Migraine pathway from October 2016 to February 2020. Patient race/ethnicity and language for care were self-reported at registration. We analyzed two treatment groups: receipt of oral (PO) or intranasal (IN) medications only or intravenous (IV) ± IN/PO medications. A total of 833 patients (median age 14.8, interquartile range (IQR): 12.3-16.5; 67% female, 51% non-Hispanic White (nHW), 23% Hispanic, 8.3% Black or African American, 4.3% Asian) were included. 287 received PO/IN medications only and 546 received IV medications. Initial pain scores in the two groups were similar. Patients who were Asian, Black or African American, and Hispanic or had a language for care other than English (LOE) had significantly lower odds of receiving IV treatment, while patients who were nHW and preferred English had higher odds of receiving IV treatment. The IV treatment group had longer LOS and ED charges. Pediatric ED patients with migraine who were Black, Asian, and Hispanic or had a LOE had a decreased likelihood of receiving IV therapies while patients who were nHW were more likely to receive IV treatments, despite similar initial pain scores. These data align with previous studies on pain management disparities and highlight another area where we must improve equity for patients in the ED.