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Individualized, Patient-Centered Care Needed to Treat and Monitor People with Chronic Pain




(News Medical) – An independent panel convened by the National Institutes of Health concluded that individualized, patient-centered care is needed to treat and monitor the estimated 100 million Americans living with chronic pain. To achieve this aim, the panel recommends more research and development around the evidence-based, multidisciplinary approaches needed to balance patient perspectives, desired outcomes, and safety.

“Persons living with chronic pain have often been grouped into a single category, and treatment approaches have been generalized with little evidence to support this practice,” said Dr. David B. Reuben, panel chair and professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Chronic pain spans a multitude of conditions, presents in different ways, and requires an individualized, multifaceted approach.”

Chronic pain is often treated with prescription opioids, but the panel noted widespread concern with this practice. Although some patients benefit from such treatment, there are no long-term studies on the effectiveness of opioids related to pain, function, or quality of life. There is not enough research on the long-term safety of opioid use. However, there are well-documented potential adverse outcomes, including substantial side effects (e.g., nausea, mental clouding, respiratory depression), physical dependence, and overdose — with approximately 17,000 opioid-related overdose deaths reported in 2011.


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Black History

Dr. Patricia Bath: A Legacy of Visionary Achievements

Dr. Patricia Bath, a trailblazer in the field of ophthalmology, etched her name in history as a woman of numerous firsts and groundbreaking achievements.



Dr. Patricia Bath held a patent for treating cataracts. Wikipedia photo
Dr. Patricia Bath held a patent for treating cataracts. Wikipedia photo

By Tamara Shiloh

Dr. Patricia Bath, a trailblazer in the field of ophthalmology, etched her name in history as a woman of numerous firsts and groundbreaking achievements.

Born on Nov. 4, 1942, in Harlem, New York City, Bath’s journey began under the guidance of her father, Rupert Bath, the first Black motorman for the NYC subway, and her science-loving mother, Gladys Bath.

From a young age, Bath’s passion for learning and science blossomed. At just 16, she attended a cancer research workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation, where her discoveries garnered such acclaim that they earned her the prestigious Mademoiselle magazine’s Merit Award in 1960.

Following her remarkable high school graduation in a mere two years, Bath pursued higher education at Hunter College, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in 1964. Subsequently, she enrolled at Howard University for medical studies and graduated with honors in 1968.

An internship at Harlem Hospital and a fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University followed, where she discovered alarming disparities in eye care between African Americans and other patients.

In 1973, Dr. Bath shattered barriers by becoming the first African American to complete an ophthalmology residency. She later ventured to California, holding an assistant professorship in surgery at Charles R. Drew University and the University of California, Los Angeles. Notably, in 1975, she became the first woman to join the faculty of UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.

Recognizing the urgent need for eye care accessibility, Dr. Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in 1976, asserting that “eyesight is a basic human right.” Her efforts extended further as she chaired the Ophthalmology Residency Training program at UCLA-Drew in 1983, another pioneering feat as the first woman to hold such a position.

However, Bath’s most influential innovation emerged in 1986 — the Laserphaco Probe.

This revolutionary device harnessed laser technology to offer a more precise and less painful treatment for cataracts, restoring sight to individuals who had suffered blindness for decades.

Her remarkable achievement led to a patent grant in 1988, making her the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent, not just in the United States, but also in Japan, Canada, and Europe.

In 1993, Dr. Bath retired from UCLA Medical Center and received the esteemed title of “Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine.” Her enduring legacy continues to inspire generations of aspiring medical professionals, especially women and people of color, to break barriers and leave an indelible mark on the world of medicine.

On May 30, 2019, the world mourned the loss of this remarkable visionary as she passed away in San Francisco. Yet, her legacy remains a beacon of hope and progress, illuminating the path for future pioneers to follow in her footsteps and shape a more equitable and vibrant world.

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California Black Media

COMMENTARY: Finding Joy and Justice for Childbearing Black Moms

Black mothers are more likely to die due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth than pregnant women of all other races. This is a shameful injustice plaguing the Black community, one that is over 400 years in the making.



Dr. Melissa Franklin
Dr. Melissa Franklin

By Dr. Melissa Franklin, Special to California Black Media Partners

Black mothers are more likely to die due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth than pregnant women of all other races. This is a shameful injustice plaguing the Black community, one that is over 400 years in the making.

Black women are 1.6 times more likely to experience more maternal mental health conditions, including prenatal and postpartum anxiety and depression, than women of other races, according to the American Hospital Association Institute for Diversity and Health Equity.

These injustices are killing Black women who are well-resourced and educated like Olympian Tori Bowie, as well as those enduring economic hardship. It is also harming their babies. And although this crisis has attracted national attention, it remains unaddressed.

For Black women, like me, who have experienced premature childbirth, the trauma and guilt of not being able to bring our babies full term can be long-lasting. Those psychological scars exist along with the other physical and mental threats to our health and wellbeing.

Both of my children were born three months early, despite my best efforts. I had a steady job, decent income, post-graduate education, a good bill of health and a stable relationship. Yet, my health and life were threatened in both of their births. One would think that such an experience would place me in a unique category. However, as a Black woman, it does not.

In Los Angeles County, Black women die at three to four times the rate of other races due to pregnancy-related complications, and Black babies die at two to three times the rate of any other race before their first birthday. Black babies are born premature at greater rates than any other ethnic group, which can lead to long-term health and developmental challenges. The Black community is also shouldering a disproportionate amount of the mental burden of tragedy and loss when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth.

To solve this problem, we must acknowledge three truths:

  1. The problem is not with Black people.
  2. It’s the system that is failing Black people.
  3. This problem is solvable, and Black people deserve to have joyous and healthy births.

The data coupled with our lived experiences and history as Black people tells us something is amiss. College educated Black women experience worse birth outcomes (i.e., death, premature birth, health complications for mother and child) than white women with high school diplomas. Black women who are non-smokers have worse birth outcomes than white women who smoke. The root problem is also not “teen pregnancy.”

Black teens have better birth outcomes than older Black individuals.

The root causes of the problem are complex. In short, stress kills.

The stress of generations of racial harm compounded by ongoing, exposure to racist treatment, prejudice and oppression, can be deadly. This stress is especially deadly when it is exacerbated by systems of care that disrespect and withhold quality care from Black people. The social contexts that imperil Black individuals to a greater extent than other races, such as homelessness, criminal justice injustice, education system injustice, and child welfare system injustice create a perfect storm for these root causes to grow.

There is hope for change. There are a number of initiatives underway to address the racism and stress that are at the root of the problem. These initiatives range from legislation such as the Federal Momnibus Act, California Senate Bill (SB) 65 (California Momnibus Act) and California SB 464 (Dignity in Pregnancy Act) to Statewide Initiatives such as the Perinatal Equity Initiative. In Los Angeles County, the Department of Public Health’s African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Initiative (AAIMM) brings together public agencies, community-based organizations, and advocates to raise awareness and transform how systems treat Black people.

But what can a Black woman/person do if they are pregnant or want to become pregnant one day? We can reclaim justice and joy by activating a village to address the stress. Until racism, racial microaggressions and poor treatment by the health care system are resolved, mental health support from multiple places is a powerful tool we can access.

This means building a village to provide social and emotional support, and as well as advocacy during your childbirth journey. Available resources include:

Black Infant Health Program — prenatal groups that bring together Black pregnant folks in a group setting. They offer support, resources, and a coach to help you through your journey.

Doulas — birth partners who provide emotional and physical support during pregnancy, childbirth, and the early postpartum period.  Los Angeles County AAIMM Doula program provides doulas services by Black Doulas for Black families.

Group Prenatal — a small prenatal care group of pregnant women with similar due dates led by a clinician.

Home Visitation — assistance to expecting families on their journey through pregnancy and early parenting, delivered by a public health nurse or a parent coach.

Midwives, Maternity Homes and Birth Centers — Important sources of caring, quality support and advocacy.

While agencies and advocates are mounting efforts, we all have an important role. Even if you have no plans of becoming pregnant or parenting in the future, you can still make a difference when it comes to the mental health of childbearing moms.

If you know someone who is pregnant, connect them to a resource to assist them on their journeys. Be a friend and advocate. Take ACTION to show them they have a village —offer to cook/bring a meal, go with them to their appointments, provide a shoulder to lean on when they are exhausted.

While we work to make this world a less traumatizing place for Black people, we can also take steps to prevent the stress of that trauma from killing our mothers and our babies. We deserve to experience joy, abundance, and beautiful, healthy births. It is our birthright.

About the Author

Dr. Melissa Franklin is the Director of maternal, Child and Adolescent Health at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Related Video

Chelsea, an expectant mom, and Danica, her doula, discuss the delicate connection between mental health and maternal care.  Watch the video.

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Acknowledging Our Ancestars is Good for Our Souls

Ancestors are those in our maternal and paternal bloodlines born before us (in most cases) who have transitioned from the Earth to an invisible-spiritual-sky realm. We use ancestors interchangeably with Ancestars to honor some African ancients’ belief that our dearly departed return to the stars from which they came once they leave the Earth. 



Daktari S. Hicks, PsyD and Monique “Kiki” Lyons, MA, AMFT
Daktari S. Hicks, PsyD and Monique “Kiki” Lyons, MA, AMFT

By Daktari S. Hicks, PsyD and
Monique “Kiki” Lyons, MA, AMFT

Except for some ceremonial moments and times, i.e., Kwanzaa, Juneteenth, Memorial Day, etc., we don’t think a lot about our ancestors.

Most of the time, in fact, we don’t think about those who walked in life before us and left footsteps for us to follow.

In many cases, we just bury them six feet under; or we cremate their physical bodies and scatter their ashes in a body of water or house them in an urn.

But are the dead really dead? As Black psychologists, we think not. The master Congo Nganga Dr. K. Kia Bunseke Fu-Kiau has taught us that we are seeds in a seed, from a seed, in a seed, from a seed ad infinitum.

We come and go and return and go and come back and go and come continually. As Black psychologists, we do believe in the continued existence, spirit, and power of our Ancestors, the invisible ones, or the dwellers of heaven (the sky world).

Ancestors are those in our maternal and paternal bloodlines born before us (in most cases) who have transitioned from the Earth to an invisible-spiritual-sky realm. We use ancestors interchangeably with Ancestars to honor some African ancients’ belief that our dearly departed return to the stars from which they came once they leave the Earth.

Us Black folk also adopt chosen, non-blood related Ancestors due to their vital impacts on us while they were alive and long after they’ve gone. Ibaye (“blessings to ancestor”) Sir Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Brown, and Billy Stewart, a few of our Chocolate City-DC ancestors, where Dr. Daktari was born and raised.

Ibaye Monica Renee Hastings-Smith, Dr. “Papa” Zakariya Diouf, Zeke Nealy, Kamau Amen-Ra, and Dr. Angelina Graham, some of our local Oakland community Ancestors.

Nana Peasant, a character from Julie Dash’s film Daughters of the Dust” says, The Ancestors and the womb … they’re One, they’re the same. Those in the grave, like those who’re across the sea, they’re with us. They’re all the same. The Ancestors and the womb are one … Call on those old Africans. They’ll come to you when you least expect them. They’ll hug you up quick and soft like the warm, sweet wind. Let those old souls come into your heart. Let them feed your head with wisdom that ain’t from this day and time.”

Our Ancestars are vital because they serve as ever-present driving forces that guide and direct us on our divine paths.

An African proverb states, “A wise will is dedicated to the Ancestors, for it’s them who gave you everything.”

With that notion in mind, we inherit the good, bad, ugly, and phenomenal from our ancestors via genetic, familial, psychical, spiritual, cultural, and social modes of transmission. Within our collective ancestral memory bank, we can tap into intergenerational memories/stories of distant Ancestors that impact how we think, feel, and act yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

We co-authors crossed paths in 2017 when our ancestors deemed it necessary while attending an ancestral veneration ceremony at Oya Nike’s Botanica in Berkeley, CA, led by Curandero/Santero/Palero Baba Ruben Texidor.

We continued along our shared ancestral journey in 2019 by participating in Lead to Life’s Guns to Shovels Ceremony at Oakland City Hall where we erected altars for the ancestors, drummed/danced for the orishas (deified ancestors in the Yoruba tradition), and witnessed fireworkers meld guns (used to take lives) into shovels, which were used to plant trees on reclaimed local Ohlone land.

Via public/private communal ceremonies, we learned to cultivate ancestral healing. We acknowledge, communicate, and collaborate with our beloved Ancestars in an effort to resolve their unresolved trauma and access our inherited legacies of dynamism, resilience, revitalization, spirituality, and vitality.

The ancestors are, in fact, you. Acknowledging our ancestors is to honor the best of ourselves. We are the ancestors come to complete what they left incomplete, to finish the song, to finish the dance step, to finish their task, to finish our elevation and affirmation.

We encourage you to reach out, connect with, and honor your ancestors for reciprocal rejuvenation by creating an ancestral altar in your home/community, offering them omi tutu (fresh water), giving them their flowers, cooking their favorite meal, playing their favorite songs, and paying attention to your dreams, which are the “voices of Ancestors.”

We also invite you to attend the Annual Maafa Commemoration Sunrise Ceremony at Ocean Beach, which typically occurs on the second Sunday of every October.

The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) Bay Area Chapter is committed to providing the Post Newspaper readership with monthly discussions about critical issues in Black Mental Health. The ABPsi-Bay Area Chapter is a healing resource. Readers are welcome to join us at our monthly chapter meetings every 3rd Saturday via Zoom. We can be contacted at

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