Karen M. Gil
Adjunct Associate Professor of Medical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

The overall goal of my research is to develop more effective behavioral and psychological methods to assess and treat pain and distress associated with illness and medical procedures. In 1987, I began NIH support studies that demonstrated that pain coping strategies predict significant amounts of variance in health care use and adjustment in patients with SCD. In 1993-1994, the follow-up studies were published and reported that coping tends tobe stable over time in adults but vary more in children. An extension of this work led to the publication (1994) of a study examining pain behaviors during episodes of SCD pain.

The major initiative in 1993-94 was the continuation of the NIH-grant supported studies examining methods to enhance pain tolerance in adults, adolescents, and children with SCD. These studies evaluate the effects of training in cognitive coping techniques on pain perception and clinical adjustment. The first paper is in press in Behavior Therapy and demonstrates that negative thinking is associated with a greater tendency to report pain during noxious stimulation. this paper is part of a Special Series that I have edited for Behavior Therapy on the use of experimental pain methods to study clinical pain.

My interest in coping and psychological factors in pain management also extends to acute pain. In collaboration with Kathy Merritt, M.D. (Pediatrics), I am studying the role of parent and staff behavior in child coping during invasive procedures. I have also begun a project with Laura Schanberg, M.D. (Pediatrics) investigating pain and function in children with fibromyalgia.

In collaboration with Brian Ginsberg, M.D. (Anesthesiology), I have been studying the effects of psychological factors on patient-controlled analgesic (PCA) use. A paper examining the effects of narcotic type and lockout interval onpain and PCA use in women undergoing gynecological surgeries is in press in Pain.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • Box 3862 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710
  • Rm 4553 Duke South, Durham, NC 27710

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