Migraine Headaches, Black Men, And What Stands in the Way of Healing

Dr. Larry Charleston, IV, Director of Headache Medicine and Facial Pain in the Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine collaborated on an article published by BET.com educating on migraine diagnosis, disparities and more.  The title of the article is Migraine Headaches, Black Men, and What Stands in the Way of Healing. 

Headaches, even severe ones like a migraine, are a common occurrence in the United States. While, 903,00 and 1.5 million African American men experience migraine disorder, it continues to be underdiagnosed in some patients of color. In fact, only 47% of African American patients with headaches have an official diagnosis compared with 70% of white patients.

Yet, a closer look at the numbers shows that prevalence rates are similar among Black and white populations "16.3% and 15.5% respectively—meaning currently there are between 7.3 -7.5 million African Americans with migraine disorder in the United States.  Dr. Charleston states that while there's s no data to specifically indicate why there is misdiagnosis /underdiagnosis of migraine in African Americans; it is suggested that implicit/unconscious biases and perhaps false beliefs about pain may play a role.


While the stats above are significant, since studies are limited for African American men and headaches, it is challenging to understand how many are truly affected. "It is also suggested that African American men are not seen in the ambulatory setting (outpatient) for headaches – either they are not receiving any care for headaches, or they are being disproportionately seen in emergency rooms. At the same time, women are far more likely to be diagnosed with migraine disorder more than men, suggesting that gender bias in diagnosis may be an important barrier for men," says Dr. Charleston.

The full article can be viewed at:  Migraine Headaches, Black Men, and What Stands in the Way of Healing.

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