Pain Psychology Interest Group

The Society for Health Psychology (SfHP) supported the development of a Pain Psychology Interest Group to shape the role of psychology in the science and practice of pain. The primary goals are as follows:


  • Define the core competencies required of psychologists who identify as having an expertise in pain

  • Support research on pain prevention, assessment, and treatment

  • Promote use of evidence-based treatment in clinical practice

  • Educate psychologists, non-psychologist professionals, and the public on the role of psychology in pain

  • Liaison with national and international pain organizations (e.g., APS, AAPM, IASP) to enhance collaboration across other disciplines associated with pain research and treatment

  • Engage in advocacy work to support ongoing development and accessibility of pain-related research and treatment


In its 2011 report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) noted that pain affects over 100 million US adults and is associated with an estimated annual cost of $500-635 billion in treatment expenses and productivity losses. There are a number of educational, research, and clinical challenges that directly impact our ability to effectively prevent, evaluate, and treat pain. The IOM highlighted these factors in their report and proposed pathways to address them. The principles underlying their recommendations explicitly reference the role of psychosocial factors in pain and cite a need for interdisciplinary approaches to assessment and treatment.

Successfully addressing the aforementioned requires both research-oriented psychologists studying the science of pain, as well as clinical practitioners translating these findings into evidence-based treatment. As research and clinical care do not occur in a void, energy must also be directed toward pain education, policy, and advocacy. Many psychologists are engaged in such activities through national and international pain associations; however, there was no profession-based organization specifically supporting such efforts at a national level.

The creation of the Interest Group is a great benefit to psychologists working in the field of pain and has established SfHP as a major stakeholder in the burgeoning field of pain management.

Please contact Dr. Ravi Prasad ( for more information about the Interest Group or to be added to its listserv.

To learn more about the manner in which psychologists help with pain management, click here for a summary from APA’s Help Center.

Pain Psychology Resources for Patients and Psychologists

Click here to access resources



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