Accelerating Innovative Strategies for Greater Equity

and Inclusion in Pain Care and Research


Call for Submissions: Journal of Pain and Health Psychology Coordinated Special Issues on Pain Disparities

Guest Editors: Emily Bartley, Mary Janevic and Martha Kenney (Journal of Pain); Adam Hirsh, Vani Mathur, Ericka Merriweather, Fenan Rassu (Health Psychology)  


There is growing awareness of the need for research to address pain inequities and to prioritize historically excluded groups, who are often disproportionately affected by pain but whose pain experience is not well documented or understood. Pain research and management faces a critical juncture. It is time to accelerate pain research to move beyond simple group comparisons to focus efforts on explaining how these inequities are generated and perpetuated, and on identifying the specific interventions, policies, and other approaches that can be used to mitigate them. 

Healthy People 2030 defines health disparity as a health difference “linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage” and “affecting people who experience greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.” Guided by the Healthy People 2030 framework, the Journal of Pain and Health Psychology are collaborating on companion special issues focused on pain disparities. With this joint effort, we aim to stimulate innovative scholarship that reaches a broad audience across the biological, psychological, social, and implementation sciences. 

We particularly welcome contributions from those outside the traditional boundaries of psychological, social, and pain sciences. This cross-pollination of perspectives and methodologies will provide an enriched understanding of the challenges at hand and spur novel strategies for promoting equity and inclusion in pain research and care. Details on the specific criteria for manuscript solicitations from each journal can be found below.


Details: Journal of Pain 

The Journal of Pain special issue will incorporate papers that are submitted in response to this open call. We seek contributions that focus on inequities in the human experience of pain, especially from underrepresented populations and/or social identity groups across the lifespan who experience unique burdens and/or resilience factors. Likewise, and consistent with the journal’s commitment to advancing inclusion and diversity, we encourage submissions from scholars who represent a range of diverse identities, experiences, and perspectives on pain disparities. These contributions may include, but are not limited to, original research reports, focus articles and reviews, intervention research, translational science reports, and guidelines and catalyst pieces that address contemporary debates and identify priorities to advance knowledge on pain disparities. The overall aim of this special issue is to promote research that goes beyond documenting differences among groups and instead focuses on explaining or addressing disparities.

Submissions in the following topics are encouraged, as are topics not on this list that align with the goals of the special issue, as described above:

  • Explanatory mechanisms underlying pain disparities
  • Intersectional approaches and their impact on pain disparities
  • Interventions targeting social, environmental, or cultural factors to reduce disparities
  • Resilience or protective factors that reduce or mitigate pain disparities
  • New theoretical frameworks or novel application of existing frameworks for conceptualizing pain disparities
  • Emerging technologies and/or therapeutic strategies that have potential to increase pain equity
  • Underrepresented and special populations (e.g., sickle cell disease, LGBTQIA+, refugee and immigrant populations, Native Americans, adolescent and young adults [AYA], persons with disabilities, underrepresented geographic regions, etc.)  
  • Study designs and methods to increase recruitment and retention of minoritized groups in research, and relevance to increasing pain equity
  • Basic science studies that examine pain disparities from a biological lens (e.g., epigenetics, pharmacogenomics, etc.)

Details: Health Psychology

The Health Psychology special issue will include both invited papers and papers that are submitted in response to this open call. We are soliciting contributions that focus on the human pain experience, especially from populations and/or social identify groups that are not well represented in the pain research literature. Consistent with the journal’s commitment to advancing diversity, we encourage submissions from both scholars and people with lived experiences who represent a range of diverse identities, experiences, and perspectives on pain disparities. These contributions may include, but are not limited to, original research reports, literature reviews (e.g., meta-analyses, scoping, qualitative, etc.), intervention and translational science reports, clinical practice guidelines, and policy discussions. The journal also invites the submission of catalyst pieces that address contemporary debates, identify priorities, communicate phenomena, and facilitate engagement and interdisciplinary collaborations that advance knowledge on pain disparities and inequities. 

We encourage submissions pertaining to the topics listed below. However, we also welcome submissions on other topics, provided they are in alignment with the journal’s scope and overarching goals of the special issues as previously outlined: 

  • Social and Political Health Determinants: studies on how social or political health determinants affect pain disparities and possible intervention strategies
  • Innovative Interventions: original research on novel strategies to manage and reduce pain in underrepresented groups
  • Intersectionality: investigations into how intersecting identities influence pain experiences and clinical outcomes
  • Public and Health Systems: studies examining the impact of health policies and healthcare systems on pain disparities
  • Community Approaches: research on community-based interventions and strategies for establishing partnerships to address pain disparities
  • Health Communication: studies on the role of health communication in pain disparities
  • Psychological and Biobehavioral Perspectives: original research exploring psychological and biobehavioral aspects of pain disparities
  • Sociocultural & Policy Perspectives: research on sociocultural aspects of pain disparities and policy implications
  • Global Perspectives: research examining global pain disparities
  • Lived Experiences: qualitative research or personal narratives from individuals that have lived experiences with pain   


Submission Instructions:

Because the requirements differ across journals, we ask that authors submit a letter of intent by October 30, 2023 to [email protected]. This letter of intent should include a 300-word (or less) summary of the expected submission, including the aims, methods, and analytic approach of an original report, or the scope and conceptual approach of a review or focus article. The editors will then provide feedback, including preliminary guidance on the suitability of the proposal for the special issue and a recommendation for which journal seems to be the best fit, so that authors can follow journal-specific guidelines. Feedback on letters of intent will be supportive but not binding, as all submissions will undergo peer review. If a manuscript has been approved for submission following the letter of intent, please note that there is no assurance of acceptance after peer review.

The final deadline for article submission for the special issues is April 1, 2024. Please indicate in the manuscript cover letter that you would like to have the article considered for the Special Issue on Pain Disparities. Articles routed to Journal of Pain should be submitted through the Editorial Manager submission portal, link here. Those routed to Health Psychology should submit through the Editorial Manager submission portal, link here


Contact Information:

Please send letters of intent to [email protected]. If you have any pre-submission questions, contact Dr. Emily Bartley at [email protected].