Show Summary Details

A more recent version of this content exists; this version was replaced on 2 December 2013. The version that replaced it can be found here.
Page of

PRINTED FROM the Encyclopedia of Social Work, accessed online. (c) National Association of Social Workers and Oxford University Press USA, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the applicable license agreement governing use of the Encyclopedia of Social Work accessed online, an authorized individual user may print out a PDF of a single article for personal use, only (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Pain is a multidimensional experience that embodies the complex relationship of body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Pain is a subjective experience. As such, assessment begins with the patient's report and is enhanced with diagnostic studies, tools, and observed behavioral, physical, and emotional responses. Pain may be acute or chronic and can be related to a chronic condition or progressive life-threatening illness—both of which create important psychological, spiritual, functional, and socioeconomic consequences. The undertreatment of pain is well documented, especially in vulnerable populations, including the elderly and the poor. Among the many barriers to adequate pain management is the fact that treatment of pain may involve the use of medications classified as controlled substances creating an environment of legislative, regulatory, and law enforcement scrutiny absent from most medical conditions. Pain is a clinical, ethical, policy, and advocacy issue impacting vulnerable populations and inviting social work attention and advocacy.

Keywords: pain, acute, chronic, suffering, delegitimation, undertreatment

Access to the complete content on Encyclopedia of Social Work requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription. If you are a student or academic complete our librarian recommendation form to recommend the Oxford Research Encyclopedias to your librarians for an institutional free trial.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.