Non-pharmacological cancer pain interventions in populations with social disparities: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Global advances in pain relief have improved the quality of life of cancer populations. Yet, variation in cancer pain outcomes has been found in populations with social disparities compared to mainstream groups. Populations with social disparities bear an inequitable distribution of resources such as ethnic minorities, low income individuals, and women in vulnerable circumstances. The purpose of this research was to perform systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of non-pharmacological cancer pain interventions in cancer populations with social disparities of income, ethnicity, or gender. Randomized controlled trials, controlled trials, and before and after studies were targeted through comprehensive multidatabase searches. Two reviewers independently screened titles/abstracts for potentially relevant studies and reviewed the full text of relevant articles for inclusion. Data were extracted from included studies by one reviewer and verified by another reviewer. Four reviewers independently completed quality assessment. Studies were grouped by intervention. Effects were evaluated for heterogeneity and pooled. The search found 5219 potential records. Full text of 26 reports was evaluated. Three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) met inclusion criteria, targeting ethnic minorities and underserved populations and/or women. Interventions included education, coaching, and online support groups. Studies found no significant differences in pain reduction between intervention and control groups or between ethnic minorities and their counterparts. A high risk of bias was found in all studies. Meta-analysis found no statistically significant difference on pain intensity among underserved groups, ethnic minorities, or between ethnic minorities and white counterparts.

Results show the need to examine supportive care interventions particularly in populations with social disparities.