Less Exercise and More Drugs: How a Low-Income Population Manages Chronic Pain

Barbara J. Turner, Natalia Rodriguez, Melissa A. Valerio, Yuanyuan Liang, Paula Winkler, Lisa Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate chronic pain management in a multistate, low-income Hispanic population, and to examine predictors of exercising and prescription pain medication (PPM) use. Design: Online survey administered to a representative sample of Hispanic adults in June 2015. Setting: Five southwestern states. Participants: Among all online panel members who were Hispanic (N=1007), aged 35 to 75 years from 5 states, representing 11,016,135 persons, the survey was completed by 516 members (51%). Among these, 102 participants were identified with chronic noncancer pain representing 1,140,170 persons. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Exercising or using PPM for chronic pain in past year. Results: Most participants reported using PPM (58%) and exercise (54%) to manage pain. Compared with annual household incomes >$75,000, adjusted odds ratios [AORs] for exercising were .20 for <$10,000 (P = 12); .40 for $10,000 to $34,999 (P = 22); and .15 for $35,000 to $74,999 (P = 015). Conversely, AORs for PPM were over 4-fold higher for lower-income groups as follows: 14.2, 4.79, and 4.85, respectively (all . P<.065). PPM users rated the importance of accessing a gym to manage pain lower (P = 01), while exercisers rated the feasibility of gym access to manage pain higher (P = 001). Conclusions: In a Hispanic population-based sample with chronic pain, lower-income groups tended to exercise less but use PPM more. Barriers to gym access and use may play a role in these disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Chronic pain
  • Drug therapy
  • Exercise
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Income
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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