[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
March 2, 1984

Conference on the Care of Patients With Severe Chronic Pain in Terminal Illness

Author Affiliations

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health Washington, DC

JAMA. 1984;251(9):1191. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340330049023

Millions of Americans with arthritis, back disorders, coronary disease, traumatic injury, and other chronic conditions wage a daily war against pain. In many instances, the pain is severe enough to cause partial or total disability and prevent participation in routine activities. While most patients with severe pain are, in fact, being treated adequately with a wide range of effective analgesics, there continue to be deficiencies in current pain therapy created by voids in our knowledge about pain and its mechanisms as well as by the inadequate or improper application of available knowledge. This situation is particularly true for the terminally ill patient.

The impact that pain can have on the patient's life can range from tolerable discomfort to crippling defeat. In spite of great advances in biomedical knowledge and technology, there remain problems with the development, dissemination, and application of knowledge, as well as with misguided attitudes among health professionals.