SUSTech, global scientists join hands to redefine what pain is
Chris Edwards, Yingying XIA | 07/22/2020

On 16th July, the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has revised the definition of pain for the first time since 1979, the result of a years-long process that the association hopes will lead to new ways of assessing pain. A scientist from the SUSTech Pain Center joined the process of redefining pain, engaged by global efforts to advance ontological frameworks in which pain resides.

The revised definition was published in PAIN, an international journal on pain research and clinical management. The revised definition of pain is: “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.”

IASP formed a 14-member, multinational Presidential Task Force made up of experts and scholars with broad expertise in clinical and basic science related to pain. They were tasked with evaluating the current definition and accompanying note to recommend whether the existing definition should be retained or changed.

Professor Xue-Jun SONG, Director of the SUSTech Center for Pain Medicine, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) School of Medicine, was one of the panel members.

The panel members came from world-class university medical schools and hospitals from the United States, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Canada, China, and Japan.

The task force’s outcome was the result of a two-year process that the association hopes would lead to revised ways of assessing pain.

The new definition emphasizes that pain includes physical pain and emotional, spiritual, or painful experiences. They can originate from actual, potential, or even entirely unknown for the biological significance of the body and the spiritual and social life beyond the body.

IASP’s further understanding of pain will contribute to their research, clinical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of various pains. Pain is a unique concept that covers multiple issues of nature, medicine, humanities, ethics, and society.

About IASP

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) works to support research, education, clinical treatment, and better patient outcomes for all pain conditions with the goal of improving pain relief worldwide.

With more than 7,000 members representing 125 countries, 96 national chapters, and 24 Special Interest Groups (SIGs), IASP fosters the exchange of ideas and education to advance the field of pain science. Membership is open to all professionals involved in research, diagnosis, or treatment of pain.

About SUSTech Pain Center

 Pain research and treatment is an emerging basic and clinical discipline, as well as a booming industry in clinical medicine and biomedical medicine. Established in 2017, the SUSTech Pain Center’s primary goals are:

– To become a world-class national center for pain medicine;

– To offer quality pain medicine education and support cutting edge research in related areas;

– To become a technology application center of biomedical medicine; and

– To understand the individual differences in each person’s pain, and to relieve hundreds of millions of suffering patients and provide public health services.

The center currently has a pain biomedical fundamental research transformation base and clinical research and medical center. The clinical research and medical center include the National Key Pain Clinical Specialty Shenzhen Nanshan Hospital Pain Department, the Ministry of Health Beijing China-Japan Friendship Hospital Pain Department, SUSTech First Affiliated Hospital Pain and Anesthesiology Departments, and other vital institutions and platforms.

2020, 07-22
By Chris Edwards, Yingying XIA

From the Series


Proofread ByProfessor Xue-Jun SONG

Photo BySchool of Medicine


Morning breeze spreads lotus scent in summer
Our Gorgeous Grounds
Welcome To SUSTech