Pain as Policy: The Social Negotiation of Pain in Medicine, Culture, and Public Policy in Post WWII America

Award Year:
Keith Wailoo
Health Disparities, History of Medicine and Health Care
There are wide disparities in the treatment of pain, and options for managing it have long been entangled with ideological debates over addiction and dependence. Dr. Wailoo will analyze and describe the complex evolution of pain policy and management practices as well as the principles underlying pain management in America since World War II. Using historical and sociological methods, he will examine increasing disparities in pain recognition and treatment by race, age, gender, class, disease, and region. The project will document the diverse ways in which cultural values have shaped the manner in which pain is understood and managed. It will trace the evolution of disparities in assessment and treatment and address why pain management has differed by community, clinic, state, and region. The roles of key policymakers (politicians, pharmaceutical companies, medical specialists, courts, and patient advocates) will also be assessed.