Pain And Disability A Psychosocial Perspective

Little is currently known about the psychology of pain among cancer survivors. While numerous investigations have addressed the psychological correlates of the cancer experience, the focus of previous research has been on understanding and lessening the suffering of the cancer patient while undergoing treatment or at the end of life. Questions concerning the impact of pain on the emotional, social, and occupational functioning of the cancer survivor remain largely unexplored.

Advances in cancer treatment have had a significant impact on survival rates.1 Continued advance in cancer care is expected to contribute to a growing population of cancer survivors. Research suggests that at least one of every three cancer survivors will continue to experience symptoms of pain.2 Current treatment options for pain in cancer survivors are limited and of modest efficacy.2-4 The problem is further complicated by the fact that pain symptoms are often viewed as secondary to the control of disease, and as such, frequently under-treated.5,6

The objective of this chapter is to examine the psychosocial determinants and impact of pain in cancer survivors. A biopsychosocial conceptualization of pain will be adopted in an effort to fully appreciate the multidimensional nature of pain experience. Available research will be summarized and avenues for future research will be explored. Finally, issues concerning the intervention needs of the cancer survivor will be discussed.

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