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Challenge

Abstract

Though causality has not been established, the comorbidity of pain and depression is prevalent (Edwards et al. 2001; Green et al. 2003; McCracken 2001; Tan et al. 2005). In clinical and community investigations black populations have been found to have more intense experiences of somatic pain and higher rates pain and depression comorbidity (Dunlop et al. 2003; Johnson-Umezulike 1999). This study explores the potential benefit of using somatic symptoms as suitable indicators in screening for depression in black patients. Through a three-model hierarchal linear regression model of data from the 2006 National Health Interview Survey, the research attempts to support the hypothesis that somatic symptoms can be used by primary care physicians to overcome challenges that result from cultural differences in discussions of depression. For black and non-black participants, somatic symptoms are better predictors of self-reported depressive symptoms than socio-demographic factors. Only joint pain/aching/stiffness and pain in the jaw/front of ear reported by black participants increased those respondents’ likelihood of scoring higher on a 24-point self-reported depressive symptoms index.

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