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Understanding Despair: The Role of Physical Pain

Macchia, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-9558-4747 (2023). Understanding Despair: The Role of Physical Pain. American Journal of Health Promotion, 37(6), pp. 763-765. doi: 10.1177/08901171231177849


In the United States, mortality due to alcohol, opioid overdose, and suicide has increased dramatically in the last decades. These deaths of despair have been the focus of recent and fast-growing literature. Yet little is known about the factors that are involved in despair. This article moves this area of research forward by highlighting the role that physical pain plays in the deaths of despair. This piece critically analyses the link between physical pain, the psychological states that precede pain, and the premature mortality that follows physical pain as well as the bidirectional relationships among these aspects.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Publisher Keywords: physical pain, deaths of despair, opioids, stress, premature mortality
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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