Body Mass Index and Quality of Life: Examining Blacks and Whites With Chronic Pain

Julia Caldwell, Tamera Hart-Johnson, Carmen R. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Obesity contributes to several chronic pain conditions, negatively affecting quality of life (QOL). However, obesity's relationship with chronic pain is poorly understood. This prospective survey study examines obesity's role in chronic pain and subsequent impact on QOL. Black and white patients with chronic pain (N = 183, 18-50 years of age, 64% women, 50% black) were studied to determine predictors for the presence of body mass index (BMI) information in medical records, group BMI differences, and how BMI and pain contribute to mental/physical outcomes. BMI was calculated by using medical records nearest the enrollment date. Sociodemographic data, sleep, pain, functioning, disability, and depression were measured. BMI data were available for 143 subjects (78%), with blacks having a higher BMI (P = .002). Black (P = .08), people with higher pain (P < .01), affective distress (P < .01), and post-traumatic stress disorder scores (P = .07) were less likely to have their BMI recorded. Path analysis tested relationships between sociodemographics, BMI and pain with functioning, depression, and disability. BMI was positively associated with black race and age and predicted poorer physical functioning and greater disability. Pain was not predicted by race or age but was associated with all outcomes. These findings support assessing BMI when managing chronic pain and its negative impact on QOL, especially for minority patients. Perspective: This study examines the relationships among sociodemographic factors, BMI, and QOL in chronic pain. Our results demonstrate significant racial disparity among chronic pain patients in assessing BMI and quality of pain care. These findings support obesity's negative impact on overall health and the importance of measuring BMI in patients with chronic pain, especially racial and ethnic minorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-67
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Body Mass Index and Quality of Life: Examining Blacks and Whites With Chronic Pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this