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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Dec 2023 - 22 Dec 2023

2023 Oct

Br J Pain




Intersectionality as a theoretical framework for researching health inequities in chronic pain.


Macgregor C, Walumbe J, Tulle E, Seenan C, Blane DN


Chronic pain is experienced unequally by different population groups; we outline examples from the pain literature of inequities related to gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic and migration status. Health inequities are systematic, avoidable and unfair differences in health outcomes between groups of people, with the fundamental ’causes of causes’ recognised as unequal distribution of income, power and wealth. Intersectionality can add further theory to health inequities literature; collective social identities including class/socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, gender, migration status, age, sexuality and disabled status intersect in multiple interconnected systems of power leading to differing experiences of privilege and oppression which can be understood as axes of health inequities. The process of knowledge creation in pain research is shaped by these interconnected systems of power, and may perpetuate inequities in pain care as it is largely based on majority white, middle class, Eurocentric populations. Intersectionality can inform research epistemology (ways of knowing), priorities, methodology and methods. We give examples from the literature where intersectionality has informed a justice oriented approach across different research methods and we offer suggestions for further development. The use of a reductionist frame can force unachievable objectivity on to complex health concepts, and we note increasing realisation in the field of the need to understand the individuals within their social world, and recognise the fluid and contextual nature of this.