and effects on families reveals that data on pain are spotty and conflicting and provide only a partial picture of pain’s impact.

  • The discussion of treatment approaches and system issues in Chapter 3 reveals a number of gaps and conflicting public policies regarding the management of pain.
  • Chapter 4’s discussion of shortfalls in education about pain with respect to promoting the application of even existing knowledge suggests the need for robust translational research and heightened efforts to understand how to educate and reach patients and the public more effectively with useful messages about pain and its management.

This chapter focuses primarily on clinical and translational research opportunities—opportunities to fill the needs and gaps in pain research by building on new discoveries. A number of prestigious organizations have been engaged in devising new strategies for pain research, and the committee did not attempt to readdress the specific recommendations of these groups. Rather, it focused its deliberations on what is needed to make pain research initiatives a reality and to enhance translational research—research based on interactions and feedback loops between researchers and clinicians on the one hand and between patients and researchers on the other—so as to bring new discoveries to patients more rapidly. Similar interactions are needed among educators, communication specialists, and researchers to enable more effective public dissemination of information (with feedback) about pain and its management. The overall goals are to expedite the process of translating scientific findings into patient care in tandem with the development of new knowledge and to gain insights that will lead to future progress in diagnosis and treatment.

Of note, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognized the breadth of areas for new knowledge development related to pain when it developed its 2011 request for “new and innovative advances … in every area of pain research.” Annex 5-1 at the end of this chapter reproduces NIH’s descriptions of these vital areas of research and the kinds of research questions of interest under the following broad topics:

  • molecular and cellular mechanisms of pain,
  • genetics of pain,
  • biobehavioral pain,
  • models of pain,
  • diagnosis and assessment of pain,
  • pain management,
  • epidemiology of pain,
  • health disparities, and
  • translational pain research.


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