The British Journal of Psychiatry
Behavioral and Psychopharmacologic Pain Management Edited by Michael H. Ebert, Robert D. Kerns Cambridge University Press. 2010. £60.00 (hb). 506 pp. ISBN: 9780521884341

The title of this book reflects its lack of appeal to the casual reader, as well as illustrating its transatlantic origin. Few of us are likely to be enthused by ‘a state of the art consideration of the biopsychosocial perspective on pain management’, as this book is described in the introductory chapter. When we later reach the chapter dealing with treatment strategies and read that ‘effective management of chronic pain necessitates the consideration of biological as well as psychological and social covariates that influence the experience and manifestation of such chronic conditions’, we scream for the intervention of a copy editor to guillotine such padding. Books that are badly written are often able to provide valuable reference material but this is not the case with this volume. There is only less than half a page (out of 475) that deals with complex regional pain syndrome, a well-known chronic pain condition, and this airily states that there is no known cure for it, despite the fact that there have been promising results for the use of physiotherapy and biphosphonates in treatment.

It is disappointing to discover these failings, as the first editor was involved in the reorganisation of training in pain medicine by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in the USA and correctly emphasised that all those working in pain medicine should be competent in the assessment of pain and be able to develop a treatment plan that involves all other relevant healthcare professionals. It may be that this book has fallen short in its objectives, as the first editor has written only the introduction and the conclusion to this volume. In addition, apart from a few established researchers in the pain field, most of the other 61 contributors, all of whom work in America, are not well known.

For the record, there are three main sections in the book, concerned with assessment of pain and ‘integrative’ management of specific types of pain, in addition to the treatment strategies involved in the model depicted in the book’s title. There is duplication of information in the last two parts.