Can we research suffering?

Qual Health Res. 2001 May;11(3):353-62. doi: 10.1177/104973201129119154.


Illness troubles us because it is an occasion of suffering, but research on illness has difficulty conceptualizing suffering--and naturally so because suffering is not a concept but a lived reality that resists articulation. Based on the work of Dorothy Smith, the author argues that the rhetoric of social science inadvertently increases suffering because it attempts to organize local experience within extralocal categories. He concludes with suggestions for changing research practices.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Research*
  • United States