Introduction:The shift from in-person visits to telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges for patients with pain. Disparities in health care access already existed, and the impact of telehealth on these inequities has not been studied.Objectives:To identify sociodemographic characteristics of patients with pain obtaining care through video, telephone, and in-person visits as social distancing restrictions evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic.Methods:Using our institutional clinical data warehouse, we identified 3314 patients with pain receiving care at a large academic institution in New York City during a baseline period (September 23, 2019-March 22, 2020) and counted telephone, video, and in-person visits during the following conditions: a shutdown period (March 23, 2020-May 23, 2020), when nonessential in-person visits were strictly limited, and a reopening period (May 23, 2020-September 23, 2020), when restrictions were relaxed and in-person visits were available. Patients were categorized into 4 groups based on the technology used to complete a visit: (1) video, (2) telephone, (3) in-person, and (4) no visit.Results:Patients who were older, publicly insured, and identified as Black or Hispanic were overrepresented in the telephone visit group during shutdown and the in-person group during reopening. A video visit during shutdown increased the likelihood of continued video visit use during reopening despite the return of in-person visits.Conclusions:Results show differences in how patients with pain accessed clinical care in a socially distanced world and that flexibility in method of health care delivery may reduce barriers to access. Future research will identify factors (eg, Internet access, digital literacy, provider-patient relationships) driving heterogeneity in telehealth use in patients with pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1001
JournalPain Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - 14 May 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Disparities
  • Telehealth


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