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The Patient-Clinician Interaction in Pain Treatment and Management: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Brain Mechanisms

15 November 2022

PRF Webinars


Editor’s note: The IASP 2022 World Congress on Pain took place from 19-23 September 2022, in Toronto, Canada. As a part of the World Congress Virtual Program, IASP will host 11 Post-Congress webinars. These webinars will provide registrants with practical reviews of current research and therapies surrounding pain and will feature live Q&A sessions with international experts in pain management and pain research. The Virtual Program is available to all IASP 2022 World Congress on Pain registered attendees (i.e., both in-person and virtual registrants). 


Date: Tuesday, December 6, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Eastern (US) Time


There are three pricing tiers for this Post-Congress webinar:


1. FREE to all IASP 2022 World Congress on Pain registered attendees (registrants must enter the promo code provided via email during checkout). 

2. $5.00 USD for all IASP members that did not register to attend the IASP 2022 World Congress on Pain. 

3. $25.00 USD for all IASP non-members that did not register to attend the IASP 2022 World Congress on Pain. 


The webinar will feature:

  • Kai Karos, PhD, Open University of the Netherlands
  • Dan-Mikael Ellingsen, PhD, Oslo University Hospital, Norway
  • Elizabeth Losin, PhD, University of Miami, US

The patient-clinician interaction can profoundly impact patient satisfaction, mutual trust, clinician stress, and even pain outcomes. Yet clinical engagement is often considered an intangible “art of medicine,” and has until recently eluded formal scientific inquiry. The patient-clinician relationship is also thought to account for a substantial part of psychologically mediated relief (e.g., placebo hypoalgesia) in clinical practice. This third Post-Congress webinar will present pioneering work on parsing the psychological, sociocultural, and brain mechanisms of the patient-clinician interaction and how it shapes – and is shaped – by pain.


The first presenter, Kai Karos, PhD, will present data on how perceived social threat can modulate the propensity to express or hide pain and vulnerability, which may in turn modulate pain. Specifically, the consequences for communication in the clinical encounter will be discussed.


Next, Dan-Mikael Ellingsen, PhD, will present evidence from simultaneous fMRI of clinicians providing pain treatment to chronic pain patients, elucidating how patient-clinician interactions in facial expressions and brain activity underpin therapeutic alliance and pain outcomes.


Finally, Elizabeth Losin, PhD, will discuss the impact of sociocultural and ethnic/racial concordance in the clinical encounter, specifically related to trust. Recent evidence from simulated health care interactions will be presented, which strongly indicates these factors impact pain outcomes and its neural/physiological underpinnings beyond mere patient satisfaction.


There will be a live Q+A session following each presentation. 


Learning objectives (upon completion):

  • Define different modes of pain expressivity, how perceived social threat modulates propensity to show/hide pain, and the implications of this for the clinical encounter.
  • Describe the current state of the art in our understanding of the brain and behavioral mechanisms supporting the patient-clinician relationship and its impact on pain outcomes in the clinical encounter.
  • Describe how sociocultural and ethnic/racial concordance impacts trust in the clinical encounter and how these factors in turn influence clinical pain outcomes.

Register here!


About the presenters


Kai Karos, PhD, achieved his bachelor and research master in psychology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He then achieved his PhD at the Research Group on Health Psychology at the KU Leuven, Belgium, under the supervision of Johan Vlaeyen, Ann Meulders, and Liesbet Goubert. He is currently working as a postdoctoral scholar at the Centre for the Psychology of Learning and Experimental Psychopathology at KU Leuven and as an assistant professor at the Open University of the Netherlands in the Clinical Psychology research group. His research concerns the dynamic interplay between social and cultural factors, and acute and chronic pain. Specifically, he investigates how different forms of social threat (e.g., discrimination, injustice, invalidation, stigmatization, etc.) affect the experience, expression, and learning of pain.


Dan-Mikael Ellingsen, PhD, is a cognitive neuroscientist at Oslo University Hospital, Norway, investigating the biopsychosocial factors that shape patient experiences and outcomes, the nature of the patient-clinician interaction, and how these aspects play out in clinically challenging conditions such as chronic pain. To address these research questions, he uses a multimodal approach combining observational assessment of naturalistic patient-clinician interactions with experimentally controlled designs using behavioral (e.g., facial expressions, eye tracking), psychological (e.g., self-report state and trait assessment), physiological (e.g., autonomic measures, brain imaging, pharmacological challenges), and experimental manipulation of expectations, psychological state, and pain.


Elizabeth Losin, PhD, is assistant professor of psychology and director of the Social and Cultural Neuroscience (SCN) Lab at the University of Miami. She received her PhD in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles, US, in 2012 and came to the University of Miami, US, at the start of 2015. Her passion lies in combining her training in anthropology and neuroscience to explore the bidirectional relationship between culture and the brain. She has investigated how humans acquire cultural beliefs and practices through imitation, how these beliefs and practices shape psychology and brain function by comparing individuals with different sociocultural backgrounds, and how both processes impact human health and healthcare. Along with the SCN Lab members, she is currently focusing on how cultural experiences (e.g., discrimination) and social situations (e.g., the doctor-patient relationship) influence pain perception and the brain mechanisms underlying it. Losin is also fervid about sharing scientific knowledge and enthusiasm with the general public.

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