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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Sep 2022 - 16 Sep 2022

Human Studies

2022 Aug-Dec

Neurobiol Pain


The neurobiology of social stress resulting from Racism: Implications for pain disparities among racialized minorities.


Hobson JM, Moody MD, Sorge RE, Goodin BR
Neurobiol Pain. 2022 Aug-Dec; 12:100101.
PMID: 36092741.


Extant literature posits that humans experience two types of threat: physical threat and social threat. While describing pain as "physical" or "social" can be helpful for understanding pain origins (i.e., broken bone versus lost relationship), this dichotomy is largely artificial and not particularly helpful for understanding how the human brain experiences pain. One real world example of social exclusion and rejection that is threatening and likely to bring about significant stress is racism. Racism is a system of beliefs, practices, and policies that operates to disadvantage racialized minorities while providing advantage to those with historical power, particularly White people in the United States and most other Western nations. The objective of this Mini-Review is to present evidence in support of the argument that racism promotes physical pain in racialized minorities, which in turn promotes chronic pain disparities. First, we provide a theoretical framework describing how racism is a potent stressor that affects the health and well-being of racialized minorities. We will then address the neurobiological underpinnings linking racism to social threat, as well as that linking social threats and physical pain. Finally, we will discuss how the perception of social threat brought about by racism may undermine pain management efforts.