The biopsychosocial approach to chronic pain: scientific advances and future directions

Psychol Bull. 2007 Jul;133(4):581-624. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.133.4.581.


The prevalence and cost of chronic pain is a major physical and mental health care problem in the United States today. As a result, there has been a recent explosion of research on chronic pain, with significant advances in better understanding its etiology, assessment, and treatment. The purpose of the present article is to provide a review of the most noteworthy developments in the field. The biopsychosocial model is now widely accepted as the most heuristic approach to chronic pain. With this model in mind, a review of the basic neuroscience processes of pain (the bio part of biopsychosocial), as well as the psychosocial factors, is presented. This spans research on how psychological and social factors can interact with brain processes to influence health and illness as well as on the development of new technologies, such as brain imaging, that provide new insights into brain-pain mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Biomedical Research / trends
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neurosciences / methods*
  • Neurosciences / trends
  • Pain* / etiology
  • Pain* / genetics
  • Pain* / psychology
  • Social Behavior*