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Am Psychol. 2014 Feb-Mar;69(2):105-18. doi: 10.1037/a0035641.

Contributions of psychology to the understanding and treatment of people with chronic pain: why it matters to ALL psychologists.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington.
Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, University of Washington.


Chronic pain is a prevalent problem with significant costs to individuals, significant others, and society. In this article, which introduces the American Psychologist special issue on chronic pain, we provide an overview of the seminal contributions made by psychologists to our current understanding of this important problem. We also describe the primary treatments that have been developed based on psychological principles and models of pain, many of which have demonstrated efficacy for reducing pain and its impact on psychological and physical functioning. The article ends with an enumeration of directions for future research and clinical practice. We believe that the chronicle of psychology's role in improving our understanding and treatment of pain provides a model for how psychologists can have a significant influence on many fields, and that the models and approaches developed for understanding and treating pain may be of use to psychologists working in other areas. Thus, we think that chronic pain is an important area of study that offers insights about translational research for ALL psychologists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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