Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pain Research: An Overview

Why Is Behavioral Research Important to Understanding Pain?

Pain has a profound effect on the quality of human life. Pain can cause disruptions in sleep, eating, mobility, and overall ability to function. Progress is being made in understanding the physiological mechanisms involved in pain. However, understanding individuals' pain experience presents unique scientific challenges. The levels of pain different people experience and their reactions to it vary widely, perhaps due to psychological state, age, gender, social environment, and cultural background, as well as genetic or physiological differences. Thus, the pain experience needs to be examined at all levels of basic and clinical research, including behavioral research, with the goal of developing interventions to manage or prevent pain.

Behavioral and social sciences research include a wide array of disciplines. The field uses such techniques as:

  • surveys and questionnaires
  • randomized clinical trials
  • direct observation
  • descriptive methods
  • economic analyses
  • laboratory and field experiments
  • standardized tests
  • evaluation

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