An alternative experimental approach to understanding pain in people with dementia

28th April 2022

Dr Christian Morgner, University of Sheffield


This presentation describes the need to develop a new understanding about pain in people with dementia. Existing procedures for assessment of pain rely on subjective self-report using pain questionnaires and rating scales that have proven to be highly problematic. Consequently, pain in people with dementia can be undetected and/or undertreated. To address that, I have developed an alternative experimental approach that builds on theoretical and methodological precedents from the arts, humanities and social sciences. Based on this approach, a number of participatory workshops were conducted to explore pain and its expression in people with dementia. This had led to a new definition of pain as an interruption of the socially mediated process of bodily meaning-making. These results emphasise that the future of pain research needs to consider the relational aspects of pain more seriously.

Speaker biography

Dr Christian Morgner joined the Management School in June 2021. Christian joined the Management School as Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries.

Prior to this appointment as Senior Lecturer, Christian was lecturer at the University of Leicester, held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Hitotsubashi University, Japan funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and worked as a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge funded by the German Academic Exchange Service. He has also held visiting fellowships at Yale University, University of Lucerne, University of Leuven and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris).

His research lies within fields like complexity studies, network analysis and creative practices, with a particular focus on diversity and inclusivity. He is interested in researching collaborative practices, such as, interactions with technology, communication of pain and arts interventions in dementia contexts.

From 2018–2021, he was the Early Career Representative of the ARUK Midlands network. Currently, he is a member of the Dementia, Arts and Wellbeing Network (DAWN) and International Health Humanities Network.

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