Closing the gap in representation of racial and ethnic minorities in pain medicine: A 2018–2019 status report

Charles A. Odonkor, Anthony Tucker-Bartley, Brooks Leitner, Cynthia Chude, Salman Hirani, Lawrence Poree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Racial health disparities persist despite increased public awareness of systemic racism. Due to the inherent subjectivity of pain perception, assessment and management, physician-patient bias in pain medicine remains widespread. It is broadly accepted that increasing racial diversity in the field of medicine is a critical step towards addressing persistent inequities in patient care. To assess the current racial demographics of the pain medicine pipeline, we conducted a cross-sectional analysis of medical school matriculants and graduates, residents, and pain fellows in 2018. Our results show that the 2018 anesthesiology residency ERAS applicant pool consisted of 46.2% non-Hispanic White, 7.0% non-Hispanic Black and 5.8% Hispanic students. The population of 2018 anesthesiology residents included 63% non-Hispanic White, 6.8% non-Hispanic Black and 5.4% Hispanic persons. Of the total eligible resident pool for pain fellowships (n = 30,415) drawn from core specialties, 44% were non-Hispanic White, 4.9% non-Hispanic Black and 5.1% Hispanic. Similar proportions were observed for pain medicine and regional anesthesia fellows. We briefly discuss the implications of the shortage of non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic representation in pain medicine as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and suggest approaches to improving these disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-615
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Diversity
  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Representation
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Closing the gap in representation of racial and ethnic minorities in pain medicine: A 2018–2019 status report'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this