Sociality of pain behaviour: Potentiation by an audience

Effective pain management depends upon successful pain assessment, which is measured through careful attention to a patient’s verbal and nonverbal communications. This task is complex, because the way a patient expresses pain during assessment is influenced by the presence of health care practitioners, family members and other patients. In spite of tremendous recent advances in understanding the physiology and pharmacology of pain, the complex social relationships affecting pain communications are only now beginning to be studied. Melanie Badali’s earlier research focused upon the role of memory as it affects children’s and parents’ assessments of the child’s pain. Now, she is examining how people communicate pain if they believe the person observing can assist in relieving the pain. Melanie anticipates her investigations will help improve the accuracy of pain assessment and management, thereby ultimately reducing suffering from acute and chronic pain.