Culturally Adapting Mind-Body Interventions for Black Individuals with Chronic Pain: Arguments and Recommendations Towards a Task-Sharing Approach

Tony V Pham, MD, MScGH; Michael Kincade, BA; Ana-Maria Vranceanu, PhD

 

ABSTRACT

Compared to non-Hispanic White individuals, non-Hispanic Black Individuals report worse chronic pain from a variety of medical issues. Among the options for non-pharmacological pain treatment, mind-body interventions (MBI) are a promising modality to help Black individuals manage their chronic pain effectively. MBIs such as mindfulness meditation improve chronic pain and chronic pain-related outcomes by shifting the individual’s perception of pain away from stress-related cognitive appraisals, emotional reactions, and behaviors. MBIs may also address disparities in chronic pain outcomes between Black and White individuals because of their contextual overlap with (1) centering and contemplative prayer, (2) racial empowerment, and (3) social support. Despite this overlap, the demand for MBIs among Black individuals has generally been low due to lingering access and acceptability barriers. To reduce these barriers for Black individuals with chronic pain, we must adopt a community-engaged approach and culturally adapt MBIs for the specific historic, environmental, financial, and psychosocial needs of Black individuals. Example adaptations include increasing Black representation among MBI instructors, reducing geographical access barriers, accommodating the financial and personal realities of Black adults, and explicitly allowing relevant attitudes, practices, and terms.  (Adv Mind Body Med. 2023;37(4):12-19.)

 

Tony V. Pham, MD, MScGH, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital. Michael Kincade, BA, Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment, Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Ana-Maria Vranceanu, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital.

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