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September 13 , 2010

The Bioethics of Pain Management

Beyond Opioids


In this book, public health ethicist Daniel S. Goldberg sets out to characterize the subjective experience of pain and its undertreatment within the US medical establishment, and puts forward public policy recommendations for ameliorating the undertreatment of pain. The book begins from the position that the overwhelming focus on opioid analgesics as a means for improving the undertreatment of pain is flawed, and argues instead that dominant Western models of biomedicine and objectivity delegitimize subjective knowledge of the body and pain in the US. This general intolerance for the subjectivity of pain is part of a specific American culture of pain in which a variety of actors take part, including not only physicians and health care providers, but also pain sufferers, caregivers, and policymakers. Concentrating primarily on bioethics, history, and public policy, the book brings a truly interdisciplinary approach to an urgent practical ethical problem. Taking up the practical challenge, the book culminates in a series of policy recommendations that provide pathways for moral agents to move beyond contests over drug policy to policy arenas that, based on the evidence, hold more promise in their capacity to address the devastating and inequitable undertreatment of pain in the US.

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