The social context of Burning Mouth Syndrome: An exploratory pilot study of stigma, discrimination, and pain
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The social context of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) has received little attention in the scientific literature. However, social psychological theory and insights from those with lived experiences suggest that people living with BMS experience compounding effects of stigma related to their pain, diagnosis (or lack-there-of), and intersectional identities. Our aim is to provide initial evidence and to motivate new directions for research on BMS. Here, we present the results of an exploratory pilot study (n=16) of women living with BMS in the United States. Participants completed self-report measures of stigma, discrimination, and pain, as well as laboratory assessments of pain through quantitative sensory testing. Results indicate a high prevalence of internalized BMS stigma, experience of BMS-related discrimination from clinicians, and gender stigma consciousness in this population. Moreover, results provide initial evidence that these experiences are related to pain outcomes. The most robust pattern of findings is that internalized BMS stigma was related to greater clinical pain severity, interference, intensity, and unpleasantness. Given the prevalence and pain-relevance of intersectional stigma and discrimination identified in this pilot study, the lived experience and social context should be incorporated in future research on BMS.
Subjectsocial determinants of health
social modulation of pain
burning mouth syndrome
chronic pain stigma