The Rise and Fall of the Dolorimeter: Pain, Analgesics, and the Management of Subjectivity in Mid-twentieth-Century United States.


Tousignant, N; (2010) The Rise and Fall of the Dolorimeter: Pain, Analgesics, and the Management of Subjectivity in Mid-twentieth-Century United States. Journal of the history of medicine and allied sciences. ISSN 0022-5045 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jhmas/jrq024

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Abstract

This article describes how two experimental technologies, the Hardy-Wolff-Goodell dolorimeter and the clinical trial, were involved in, and transformed by, American analgesic research. Introduced in 1940, the dolorimeter quickly became popular as an analgesic-testing technology. By the early 1950s, however, the main sources of funding for analgesic evaluation had shifted to Henry K. Beecher's clinical trial methodology. To explain both the initial popularity of the dolorimeter and its displacement by the clinical trial, I examine the demands and resources generated by those who participated-as sponsors, investigators, collaborators, or subjects-in analgesic research and evaluation. These actors linked methodological designs to material resources, social interactions, and epistemological values, changing how pain-relieving efficacy both should and could be evaluated. They also mediated the interaction between specific expectations of, and investments in, analgesic evaluation and broader ideas about the reliability of drug evaluation and the subjectivity of pain. My analysis thus connects the changing social and material configuration of analgesic evaluation to the rise of clinical trials as well as increasingly psychological understandings of pain in order to frame the rise and fall of the dolorimeter.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Global Health and Development
PubMed ID: 20423981
Web of Science ID: 290637100001
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/3804

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