Statistical Portrait of Suffering in America
- 891 Downloads
Suffering is multifaceted and encompasses pain, depression, anxiety, grief, existential suffering, and social suffering. These types of suffering were operationalized in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) of non-institutionalized adults in the USA. Over 6,000 were interviewed in 2010 on pain-related topics. Estimates were derived for 14 types of suffering, many of which tend to occur together. About 52 million people, or one in four of Americans 18 or older, reported having a recent, significant case of pain, depression, or anxiety. Even if we limit our count of the suffering to extreme suffering–those who describe their experience with pain to be “excruciating and unbearable” or their depression so bad that they sometimes “cannot get out of bed,” we find that 13 % Americans (25 million adults) struggle nearly every day. Most types of suffering, except existential suffering, are more common among women, those over age 55, and those with a relative low income. One of the important findings was that suffering plays a greater role in predicting quality of life (QOL) than does health, income, and social support. Finding so much suffering in a contemporary, affluent society raises the possibility that affluence itself through lifestyles and beliefs produces suffering not typically found in poverty stricken nations.
KeywordsCaregiving Chronic pain Depression Emotions Existential suffering Extreme pain Grief Happiness Quality of life Pain Poverty Social suffering Suffering
- American academy of pain medicine (2013). Facts and Figures on Pain. American Academy of Pain Medicine. http://www.painmed.org/PatientCenter/Facts_on_Pain.aspx. Accessed 20 May 2013.
- Borsook, D. (2012). A future without chronic pain: neuroscience and clinical research. http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=39160 Accessed 8 March 2013.
- Bourdieu, P., et al. (2000). Understanding. In P. Bourdieu, et al. (Eds.), The weight of the world: social suffering in contemporary society. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Cassell, E. J. (2004). The nature of suffering and the goals of medicine. USA: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Elzahaf, R. A., Tashani, O. A., Unsworth, B. A., & Johnson, M. I. (2012). The prevalence of chronic pain with an analysis of countries with a human development index less than 0.9: a systematic review without meta-analysis. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 28(7), 1221–1229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Harstall, C., Ospina, M. (2003). How prevalent is chronic pain? pain clinical updates. Seattle, WA: International association for the study of pain 11(2), 1–4.Google Scholar
- Institute of Medicine Report. (2011). Relieving pain in america, a blueprint for transforming prevention, care, education and research. Washington: The National Academies in Press.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, D., Deaton, A. (2010). High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. PNAS 107(38), 16489-16493. http://wws.princeton.edu/news/Income_Happiness/Happiness_Money_Report.pdf. Accessed 7 March 2013.Google Scholar
- Kleinman, A., Das, V., & Lock, M. (Eds.). (1997). Social suffering. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Land, K. C., Michalos, A. C., & Sirgy, M. J. (2012). The development and evolution of research on social indicators and quality of life. Land and others (Ed.), Handbook of Social Indicators and Quality of Life Research (pp. 1–22). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Langle, A. (2008). Suffering—an existential challenge: Understanding, dealing and copy with suffering from an existential-analytic perspective. International Journal of Existential Psychology & Psychotherapy,2(1), 39–50.http://journal.existentialpsychology.org/index.php?journal=ExPsy&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=115&path%5B%5D=58. Accessed 18 May 2013.
- Macdonald, G. M., & Jensen-Campbell, L. A. (Eds.). (2010). Social pain: Neuropsychological and health implications of loss and exclusion. Washington: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Tsang, A., Von, K., M, Lee, S., Alonso, J., Karam, E., et.al. (2008). Common chronic pain conditions in developed and developing countries: Gender and age differences and comorbidity with depression-anxiety disorders. The Journal of Pain. 9(10), 883–891.Google Scholar
- Wilkinson, I. (2005). Suffering: A sociological introduction. Cambridges, UK: Polity Press. Google Scholar
- Williams, B.R. (2004). Dying young, dying poor: A sociological examination of existential suffering among low-socioeconomic status patients. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 7(1), 27–37.Google Scholar