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Title: Do we mean to ignore meaning in pain?
Authors: van Rysewyk, S
Galbraith, M
Quintner, J
Cohen, M
Keywords: Disability
Chronic Pain
Pain Management
Abstract: Although pain medicine is a rapidly developing clinical discipline, medical explanations about pain are often unsatisfactory. The problem seems to be with meaning: some people with pain do not find meaning in clinical discussions of pain, and clinicians typically are not looking for it. For patients with pain, biomedical information can be perceived as lacking meaning in relation to their personal experience. By contrast, patient narratives and stories about pain, clinical encounters and therapies, cautionary tales, and common-sense experience seem to offer meaningful and actionable information. No biomedical explanation of pain, however useful it might be to a pain clinician, could describe the personal meaning or burden of pain to the individual. Traditionally, scientific research has had much to say about the physical nature of pain but much less about pain experience. It seems that one limitation in the ability of clinicians to effectively treat pain or pain-related suffering is an incomplete appreciation of “pain experience”. This special issue in Pain Medicine focuses on a pivotal aspect of this problem: how to understand the meaning of pain, for both the patient and the observing clinician.
DOI: 10.1093/pm/pnab013
ORCID: 0000-0003-0739-0235
PubMed URL:
ISSN: 1526-4637
Journal Title: Pain Medicine
Type: Journal Article
Affiliates: Department of Philosophy and Gender Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
St Vincent's Clinical School, UNSW Medicine, Sydney NSW, Australia
Study/Trial: Editorial
Appears in Collections:Scholarly and Clinical

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