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.
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