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Total pain: the work of Cicely Saunders and the hospice movement

Clark, D. (2000) Total pain: the work of Cicely Saunders and the hospice movement. American Pain Society Bulletin, 10 (4). pp. 13-15. ISSN 1057-1590

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Abstract

There can be little doubt that when Cicely Saunders first used the term “total pain” in the early 1960s, she was in the process of bequeathing to medicine and health care a concept of enduring clinical and conceptual interest. In recent years we have gained a clear picture of the early evolution of the notion of total pain (Clark, 1999). Certainly, it emerged from Cicely Saunders’ unique experience as nurse, social worker, and physician—the remarkable multidisciplinary platform from which she launched the hospice movement. It also reflected her willingness to acknowledge the spiritual suffering of the patient and to see this in relation to physical problems. Crucially, total pain was tied to a sense of narrative and biography, emphasizing the importance of listening to the patient’s story and of understanding the experience of suffering in a multifaceted way. This was an approach that saw pain as a key to unlocking other problems and as something requiring multiple interventions for its resolution. Thus was formulated the idea of total pain as incorporating physical, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual elements (Saunders, 1964).

Item Type:Article
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s):Clark, Prof David
Authors: Clark, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:American Pain Society Bulletin
Publisher:American Pain Society
ISSN:1057-1590
ISSN (Online):1943-765X

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