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    Explores psychosocial and cultural concepts integral to the experience of acute and chronic pain, as well as those contextual factors influencing treatment providers involved in assessment and management of pain.

    Pain is an experience, although underpinned by neurobiological events, and is private and unavailable for objective examination. Pain is learned as a concept during human development and is, therefore, subject to social, cultural and psychological influences. Pain expression is influenced by contextual factors, including developmental stage, cultural and ethnic background, learning experiences and personal beliefs. This paper explores psychosocial and cultural concepts integral to experiencing and treating both acute and chronic pain. Students have the opportunity to extend their knowledge of a personally selected aspect of pain.

    About this paper

    Paper title Psychosocial and Cultural Aspects of Pain
    Subject Pain and Pain Management
    EFTS 0.125
    Points 15 points
    Teaching period Semester 2 (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,469.00
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    (MSME 704 or MSMX 704) and (MSME 708 or MSMX 708)
    Limited to
    MHealSc, PGDipHealSc, PGDipPhty, MPhty
    Appropriately qualified health professionals

    Teaching staff

    Paper Coordinator: Dr Bronwyn Lennox Thompson

    Paper Structure

    Topics covered include:

    • History of pain relief in childbirth
    • Māori cultural beliefs and practices regarding pain
    • Body piercing and people who seek out pain
    • Neurobiology of attention and emotion in pain
    • Gender and pain
    • Disability, treatment seeking and the healthcare environment as a specific cultural context

    Students will also select and investigate their own topic of interest to present to other students.

    The paper will encourage group discussion on all of the topics above, as well as other topics identified by students.

    Students will have the opportunity to examine any one of these aspects in more detail as part of their self-directed learning, with additional topics also provided for selection. Students are encouraged to embrace a wide range of ways to approach studying their self-selected topic and are supported to consider alternatives.

    Teaching Arrangements

    Resources are provided online via Blackboard. Teaching and discussion sessions are held over eight fortnightly sessions on Thursday evenings, 7.30 pm - 8.30 pm. Teaching sessions are in a tutorial or seminar format and are designed to provide students with an opportunity to share, discuss and collaborate. Students will present their own project findings to their peers. Discussion and reflection using online tools in Blackboard are integral to the paper.


    No textbook is required, however students will be expected to use the library resources to study their area of interest.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will:

    • have developed an extended understanding of the psychosocial and cultural factors influencing both the experience of pain and expression of pain communication.
    • have researched a topic of their choice using principles of adult learning and
    • have presented this to their peers
    • have critically evaluated material in light of their own beliefs and attitudes towards pain
    • have challenged their assumptions of pain and treatment seeking
    • have considered applying the principles developed throughout the paper to clinical practice


    Semester 2

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system
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