The inequities of chronic pain

Grant recipient: Bernadette Brady, APAM

Project title: The inequities of chronic pain – responding with culturally responsive physiotherapy.

Year awarded: 2016

PRF grant: Seeding grant

Snapshot: Australia’s cultural diversity is increasing, with approximately 28 per cent of the population born overseas and 50 per cent with at least one parent born overseas. Research has previously shown that it is vital that healthcare is culturally responsive to improve health outcomes. This study aimed to uncover the effects of culturally adapted physiotherapy practices in culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Sydney. In particular, chronic pain was assessed in participants from Assyrian, Mandean and Vietnamese backgrounds over a three month period.

The findings: Higher levels of patient engagement were highlighted (attendance, adherence and treatment completion) and reduced pain-related suffering compared to those who attended standard physiotherapy. The study protocol outlining elements of the cultural adaptations were published in BMJ Open in 2017 and the results have recently been accepted for publication in BMJ Open. 

Benefits to the profession: In practice, Bernadette envisages pain specialists and clinics incorporating multicultural education programs for their patients, and treatment adaptations for different communities based on their understanding and beliefs on pain, with the ultimate goal of better health outcomes for all patients.

The next steps: Bernadette wants to extend this pilot study to include a broader range of communities and partnerships with researchers across Australia, and potentially internationally as well as opportunities to make this research more interdisciplinary.