Pain Research Center – Clinical

Robert Edwards, Ph.D. – Research

Dr. Edwards is a licensed clinical psychologist with appointments in Anesthesiology and Psychiatry at Brigham & Women's Hospital.

His research focuses on biopsychosocial aspects of the pain experience, including studies of how negative emotions may magnify the physiological impact of pain. In addition to studying the role of negative emotions in shaping the pain experience, Dr. Edwards' work focuses on evaluating individual differences in sensitivity to pain using psychophysical techniques to assess responses to a variety of noxious stimuli. He has established a psychophysical pain testing laboratory at Brigham & Women's Hospital (located adjacent to the Pain Management Center), in which quantitative sensory testing (QST) is used to study sensory responses in a controlled environment. In past work, Dr. Edwards has studied ethnic and sex differences in responses to pain, and some of the psychosocial variables which might explain such differences. More recently, his research has focused on factors such as emotional distress, pain-related catastrophizing, and disrupted sleep as important contributors to pain responses both inside and outside of the laboratory. Dr. Edwards is the recipient of several NIH and foundation awards, including: a K23 award from NIAMS, which includes the use of QST in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, an R21 from NCI, which includes the use of QST assessments in patients undergoing surgical procedures, and young investigator awards from the American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation, which involve functional neuroimaging studies to identify the central nervous system substrates of pain-related catastrophizing.Dr. Edwards works closely with Drs. Wasan and Jamison, and ongoing projects in his laboratory use tools such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to evaluate how the brain processes pain-related information. Additional projects include a laboratory-based study of how pain-related anxiety can alter the functioning of the immune system and stimulate an inflammatory response, as well as a study of the predictors of individual differences in post-surgical pain.

Principal Investigator

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Robert Edwards, Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist with appointments in Anesthesiology and Psychiatry at Brigham & Women's Hospital.

Select Recent Publications

  • Edwards R, Almeida D, Klick B, Haythornthwaite J, Smith M. “Duration of sleep contributes to next-day pain report in the general population.” Pain 2008;137: 202-7.
  • Edwards RR, Cahalan C, Mensing G, Smith M, Haythornthwaite “JA. Pain, catastrophizing, and depression in the rheumatic diseases.” Nat Rev Rheumatol 2011 Apr;7(4):216-24.
  • Edwards RR, Wasan AD, Michna E, Greenbaum S, Ross E, Jamison RN. “Elevated pain sensitivity in chronic pain patients at risk for opioid misuse.” J Pain 2011 Sep;12(9):953-63.
  • Edwards RR, Mensing G, Cahalan C, Greenbaum S, Narang S, Belfer I, Schreiber KL, Campbell C, Wasan AD, Jamison RN. “Alteration in Pain Modulation in Women With Persistent Pain After Lumpectomy: Influence of Catastrophizing.” J Pain Symptom Manage 2012 Oct 24.