Behind the Book

We asked the Chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the 12th World Congress on Pain, Dr. José Castro-Lopes, for his thoughts on Current Topics in Pain.
Q: Do you think Current Topics on Pain will have wide appeal as a state-of-the-art book on pain research and management that will reach beyond the Congress delegates and even the IASP membership to the general medical community?
A: I believe it will be an excellent book for anyone interested in the wide range of topics addressed by the authors, from the neurochemistry and neurobiology of pain to the role of stress in chronic pain. Moreover, some chapters, such as Inge Genefke’s chapter on pain and suffering following torture, or the chapter by Peter Rothwell on the external validity of clinical trials, have a scope that clearly reaches beyond the field of pain.
Q: The proceedings include 17 chapters — the 15 scientific plenary talks and two distinguished lectures. For previous Congresses, we published much larger books, including chapters based on some of the workshop and poster presentations. What led to the decision to publish a more concise version this time?
A: Proceedings books are often a hybrid, offering genuine review articles, together with reports that would be difficult to publish in high-ranking journals. Authors prefer to publish exciting new developments in a specialty journal with a wide distribution and a high impact factor, rather than in such a book. But publishers want to include those articles in their books, because otherwise the books lack interest and do not sell. The SPC decided that Current Topics in Pain should not be a traditional proceedings book but a book with excellent reviews on timely topics written by the renowned experts who, for good reason, were invited to give a plenary or distinguished lecture at the World Congress on Pain.
Q: Clearly, all the invited plenary speakers represent the top experts in their field, and their chapters all promise to be extremely informative. Based on what you saw at the Congress, which chapters do you think represent the cutting edge in pain research?
A: To give you an example of the difficulty in evaluating the importance of any particular topic, the chapter on pain management in the developing world would be unlikely to be described as the cutting edge in pain research. However, this issue is of insurmountable importance, given the number of people affected by pain in the developing world, with no access to the basic medical care that we take for granted in the so-called developed world.
Q: What have been the most positive and negative aspects of your involvement in the production of the book Current Topics in Pain?
A: The most positive aspect has been the collaboration of the IASP staff, in particular Kathy Kreiter, Terry Onustack, and Elizabeth Endres. With their experience, know-how, and availability, everything was much easier than I had anticipated. Also, we had excellent collaboration from most of the authors. Others, however, given their busy schedules, had difficulty in complying with the deadlines set by the publisher. Having to send reminders was the most negative part, but I must confess that it was something I had anticipated!