Chronic Pain: Closing the Gap Between Evidence and Practice

Beverly E. Thorn and Barbara B. Walker

in The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342819
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Chronic Pain: Closing the Gap Between Evidence and Practice

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Chronic pain devastates lives and leads to staggering health care costs. Because chronic pain is one of the most common complaints seen in health care settings and is commonly associated with other health problems, it is critical that health psychologists have a thorough understanding of pain disorders. In this chapter, we describe the problematic gap that exists between what we know about chronic pain and our ability to provide effective treatments in practice. After reviewing the evidence from several different perspectives, we argue that this gap exists in large part because of a collision between the biopsychosocial and biomedical models. Specifically, the evidence supports conceptualizing and treating chronic pain using a biopsychosocial model, but the prevailing model practiced within our current health care system is biomedical. With their extensive experience and training in both the biopsychosocial model and evidence-based practice, health psychologists are uniquely qualified to narrow this gap.

Keywords: Chronic pain; pain clinics; health psychology; back pain; treatment outcome; biopsychosocial

Article.  12872 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology

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