Ernest Volinn, PhD

Research Interests

  • Back Pain
  • Low Back Pain
  • Acupuncture

Languages

  • English

Academic Information

  • Departments: Anesthesiology - Research Associate Professor

Academic Office Information

  • 801-585-0429
  • Pain Management Center
    Department of Anesthesiology
    615 Arapeen Dr., Room: 200
    Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Academic Bio

My PhD is in sociology (Columbia University), although my dissertation advisor was an anthropologist, and I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at a Pain Clinic (University of Washington) supervised by a neurological surgeon. I publish mainly in medical journals, my articles intersect social sciences with pain research, and I like to think of my work as suffused with the humanities. Although I am currently at the University of Utah Pain Research Center, I am also involved in the Dept. of Sociology. All of this fits with pain research: a reason why I am attracted to it is that it essentially transcends narrow disciplinary boundaries.I am principally interested in back pain and other subjective symptoms. I view these symptoms from a cross-cultural perspective. I have also conducted research on the outcomes of treatments for back pain. For example, social scientists have long documented severe psycho-social repercussions of work loss. Reflecting this body of work, one of my studies concerns the effect of opioids for back pain on chronic work loss. Recently, I returned from a year’s stay in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. I had a Fulbright award to conduct a study on the outcomes of acupuncture for back pain. The research site was the Acupuncture Clinic of a large, well-known hospital and research center, West China Hospital, which is affiliated with Sichuan University. I proposed that acupuncture induces biological effects but people are not passive receptacles of biological effects. Rather, there is no necessary or simple relationship between biological effects of acupuncture and people’s experience of them. For example, patients in China may interpret the sensation brought on by acupuncture needling as “deqi” with all its therapeutic implications, but to patients in the U.S. this may be only a queasy or painful feeling. Socio-cultural context of this nature surrounds and pervades the outcomes of acupuncture, or so I proposed. Are outcomes of acupuncture for back pain better in China than in the U.S.? Stay tuned—I am now analyzing the data I collected.Keywords: Back pain, chronic pain, global health care, social sciences, China, culture, complementary and alternative medicine

Education History

Type School Degree
Postdoctoral Fellowship University of Washington, Multidisciplinary Pain Center
Postdoctoral Fellow
Doctoral Training Columbia University
Sociology
Ph.D.

Global Impact

Selected Provider Publications

Journal Article

  1. Volinn E, Yang B, Chen N, Ying J, Lin J, Sheng X, Zuo Y (2016). The Constellation of Chronic Low Back Pain and Other Subjective Symptoms: Does the View Differ From China? Spine, 41(8), 705-712.
    Global Impact: China.

  2. Song L, Wu C, Liu J, Zuo Y, Volinn E, Yao J (2015). Potential advantages of an additional forearm rubber tourniquet in intravenous regional anesthesia: a randomized clinical trial. J Anesth, 29(4), 551-6.
    Global Impact: China.

  3. Volinn E, Yang B, He J, Sheng X, Ying J, Volinn W, Zhang J, Zuo Y (2010). West China hospital set of measures in Chinese to evaluate back pain treatment. Pain Med, 11(5), 637-47.
    Global Impact: China.

  4. Chen G, Lai W, Liu F, Mao Q, Tu F, Wen J, Xiao H, Zhang JC, Zhu T, Chen B, Hu ZY, Li RM, Liang Z, Nie H, Yan H, Yang BX, Du Q, Huang WX, Jiang YW, Kwan AS, Song L, Wu CM, Xiang T, Xu HW, Lau WB, Song HB, Wen CB, Yao ZH, Zhang L, Zeng J, Dai YE, Lopez BL, Zheng JQ, Zhou J, Christopher TA, Ma XL, Yu H, Xu LL, Guo Q, Song ZP, Volinn E, Kryger K, Cao Y, Ge H, Liu H, Luo CZ, Tao W, Zuo YX, Liu J (2010). The dragon strikes: lessons from the Wenchuan earthquake. Anesth Analg, 110(3), 908-15.
    Global Impact: China.

  5. He J, Volinn E, Zhao Y, Li J (2008). Survey of factors of the patient with lumbago seeking for acupuncture treatment and observation on the therapeutic effect of acupuncture at early days. [In Chinese]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu, 28(7), 519-21.
    Global Impact: China.

  6. Dionne CE, Dunn KM, Croft PR, Nachemson AL, Buchbinder R, Walker BF, Wyatt M, Cassidy JD, Rossignol M, Leboeuf-Yde C, Hartvigsen J, Leino-Arjas P, Latza U, Reis S, Gil Del Real MT, Kovacs FM, Oberg B, Cedraschi C, Bouter LM, Koes BW, Picavet HS, van Tulder MW, Burton K, Foster NE, Macfarlane GJ, Thomas E, Underwood M, Waddell G, Shekelle P, Volinn E, Von Korff M (2008). A consensus approach toward the standardization of back pain definitions for use in prevalence studies. Spine, 33(1), 95-103.
    Global Impact: Global.

  7. Leboeuf-Yde C, Larsen K, Ahlstrand I, Volinn E (2006). Coping and back problems: Analysis of multiple data sources on an entire cross-sectional cohort of Swedish military recruits. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 7(1), 39.
    Global Impact: Sweden.

  8. Volinn E, Nishikitani M, Volinn W, Nakamura Y, Yano E (2005). Back pain claim rates in Japan and the United States: framing the puzzle. Spine, 30(6), 697-704.
    Global Impact: Japan.

  9. Loeser JD, Van Konkelenberg R, Volinn E, Cousins MJ (1993). Small area analysis of lumbar spine surgery in South Australia. Aust N Z J Surg, 63(1), 14-9.
    Global Impact: Australia.

  10. Volinn E (1997). The epidemiology of low back pain in the rest of the world. A review of surveys in low- and middle-income countries. Spine, 22(15), 1747-54.
    Global Impact: Global.

  11. Volinn E, Spratt KF, Magnusson M, Pope MH (2001). The Boeing prospective study and beyond. Spine, 26(14), 1613-22.
    Global Impact: Global.

Service

Date Role Description Country
01/01/2006 Program Director China Program Director and Board Member, Global Health Alliance, University of Utah, School of Medicine, 2006 – 2009. During this time, I arranged for medical students from West China Medical School to visit the U of UT, and U UT medical students to visit West China Medical School. I also arranged for U UT physicians to visit West China Hospital. China

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Volinn E, Yang B, Chen N, Ying J, Lin J, Sheng X, Zuo Y (2016). The Constellation of Chronic Low Back Pain and Other Subjective Symptoms: Does the View Differ From China? Spine, 41(8), 705-712.
  2. Song L, Wu C, Liu J, Zuo Y, Volinn E, Yao J (2015). Potential advantages of an additional forearm rubber tourniquet in intravenous regional anesthesia: a randomized clinical trial. J Anesth, 29(4), 551-6.
  3. Volinn E, Yang BX, He J, Sheng, X, Ying J, Zuo Y (2013). Do outcomes of acupuncture for back pain differ according to varying socio-cultural contexts? The View from China. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 11, 435-444.
  4. Volinn E, Yang B, He J, Sheng X, Ying J, Volinn W, Zhang J, Zuo Y (2010). West China hospital set of measures in Chinese to evaluate back pain treatment. Pain Med, 11(5), 637-47.
  5. Chen G, Lai W, Liu F, Mao Q, Tu F, Wen J, Xiao H, Zhang JC, Zhu T, Chen B, Hu ZY, Li RM, Liang Z, Nie H, Yan H, Yang BX, Du Q, Huang WX, Jiang YW, Kwan AS, Song L, Wu CM, Xiang T, Xu HW, Lau WB, Song HB, Wen CB, Yao ZH, Zhang L, Zeng J, Dai YE, Lopez BL, Zheng JQ, Zhou J, Christopher TA, Ma XL, Yu H, Xu LL, Guo Q, Song ZP, Volinn E, Kryger K, Cao Y, Ge H, Liu H, Luo CZ, Tao W, Zuo YX, Liu J (2010). The dragon strikes: lessons from the Wenchuan earthquake. Anesth Analg, 110(3), 908-15.
  6. Chapman CR, Lipschitz DL, Angst MS, Chou R, Denisco RC, Donaldson GW, Fine PG, Foley KM, Gallagher RM, Gilson AM, Haddox JD, Horn SD, Inturrisi CE, Jick SS, Lipman AG, Loeser JD, Noble M, Porter L, Rowbotham MC, Schoelles KM, Turk DC, Volinn E, Von Korff MR, Webster LR, Weisner CM (2010). Opioid pharmacotherapy for chronic non-cancer pain in the United States: a research guideline for developing an evidence-base. J Pain, 11(9), 807-29.
  7. Volinn E, Fargo JD, Fine PG (2009). Opioid therapy for nonspecific low back pain and the outcome of chronic work loss. Pain, 142(3), 194-201.
  8. Roy N, Volinn E, Merrill RM, Chapman CR (2009). Speech motor control and chronic back pain: a preliminary investigation. Pain Med, 10(1), 164-71.
  9. He J, Volinn E, Zhao Y, Li J (2008). Survey of factors of the patient with lumbago seeking for acupuncture treatment and observation on the therapeutic effect of acupuncture at early days. [In Chinese]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu, 28(7), 519-21.
  10. Dionne CE, Dunn KM, Croft PR, Nachemson AL, Buchbinder R, Walker BF, Wyatt M, Cassidy JD, Rossignol M, Leboeuf-Yde C, Hartvigsen J, Leino-Arjas P, Latza U, Reis S, Gil Del Real MT, Kovacs FM, Oberg B, Cedraschi C, Bouter LM, Koes BW, Picavet HS, van Tulder MW, Burton K, Foster NE, Macfarlane GJ, Thomas E, Underwood M, Waddell G, Shekelle P, Volinn E, Von Korff M (2008). A consensus approach toward the standardization of back pain definitions for use in prevalence studies. Spine, 33(1), 95-103.
  11. Leboeuf-Yde C, Larsen K, Ahlstrand I, Volinn E (2006). Coping and back problems: Analysis of multiple data sources on an entire cross-sectional cohort of Swedish military recruits. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 7(1), 39.
  12. Volinn E, Nishikitani M, Volinn W, Nakamura Y, Yano E (2005). Back pain claim rates in Japan and the United States: framing the puzzle. Spine, 30(6), 697-704.
  13. Volinn E (2004). Point of View: A Proposed Natural Experiment. Spine.
  14. Volinn E (2002). Point of View: The return-to-work curve for the first eight weeks of time loss from work: Is it Inalterable? Spine, 27, 1851.
  15. Volinn E (2001). Point of View: The psychosocial work environment and musculoskeletal pain. Spine, 26, 1902-1903.
  16. Volinn E (2001). Point of View: Should cross-sectional studies of occupational back pain continue to be conducted? Spine, 26, 1792-1793.
  17. Volinn E, Spratt KF, Magnusson M, Pope MH (2001). The Boeing prospective study and beyond. Spine, 26(14), 1613-22.
  18. Volinn E (2000). Point of View: An uncommon patient vignette study. Spine, 25, 2219-2220.
  19. Volinn E (1999). Do workplace interventions prevent low-back disorders? If so, why?: a methodologic commentary. Ergonomics, 42(1), 258-72.
  20. Murphy PL, Volinn E (1999). Is occupational low back pain on the rise? Spine, 24(7), 691-7.
  21. Volinn E (1998). Point of View: What accounts for the low back pain hospitalizations in a young Finnish cohort? Spine, 23, 2343-2344.
  22. MacDonald MJ, Sorock GS, Volinn E, Hashemi L, Clancy EA, Webster B (1997). A descriptive study of recurrent low back pain claims. J Occup Environ Med, 39(1), 35-43.
  23. Kraus JF, Gardner L, Collins J, Sorock G, Volinn E (1997). Design factors in epidemiologic cohort studies of work-related low back injury or pain. Am J Ind Med, 32(2), 153-63.
  24. Volinn E (1997). The epidemiology of low back pain in the rest of the world. A review of surveys in low- and middle-income countries. Spine, 22(15), 1747-54.
  25. Hashemi L, Webster BS, Clancy EA, Volinn E (1997). Length of disability and cost of workers' compensation low back pain claims. J Occup Environ Med, 39(10), 937-45.
  26. Atlas SJ, Volinn E (1997). Classics from the spine literature revisited: a randomized trial of 2 versus 7 days of recommended bed rest for acute low back pain. Spine, 22(20), 2331-7.
  27. Volinn E (1996). Back pain and associated disability in the U.S. Am Pain Soc Bull, 6, 8.
  28. Volinn E (1996). Between the idea and the reality: research on bed rest for uncomplicated acute low back pain and implications for clinical practice patterns. Clin J Pain, 12(3), 166-70.
  29. Volinn E, Turczyn KM, Loeser JD (1994). Patterns in low back pain hospitalizations: implications for the treatment of low back pain in an era of health care reform. Clin J Pain, 10(1), 64-70.
  30. Volinn E, Diehr P, Ciol MA, Loeser JD (1994). Why does geographic variation in health care practices matter? (And seven questions to ask in evaluating studies on geographic variation). Spine, 19(18 Suppl), 2092S-2100S.
  31. Loeser JD, Van Konkelenberg R, Volinn E, Cousins MJ (1993). Small area analysis of lumbar spine surgery in South Australia. Aust N Z J Surg, 63(1), 14-9.
  32. Volinn E, Mayer J, Diehr P, Van Koevering D, Connell FA, Loeser JD (1992). Small area analysis of surgery for low-back pain. Spine, 17(5), 575-81.
  33. Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Volinn E, Loeser JD (1992). Use of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9-CM) to identify hospitalizations for mechanical low back problems in administrative databases. Spine, 17(7), 817-25.
  34. Deyo RA, Cherkin D, Conrad D, Volinn E (1991). Cost, controversy, crisis: low back pain and the health of the public. Annu Rev Public Health, 12, 141-56.
  35. Volinn E, Van Koevering D, Loeser JD (1991). Back sprain in industry. The role of socioeconomic factors in chronicity. Spine, 16(5), 542-8.
  36. Loeser JD, Volinn E (1991). Epidemiology of low back pain. Neurosurg Clin N Am, 2(4), 713-8.
  37. Volinn E, Turczyn KM, Loeser JD (1991). Theories of back pain and health care utilization. Neurosurg Clin N Am, 2(4), 739-48.
  38. Diehr P, Cain K, Connell F, Volinn E (1990). What is too much variation? The null hypothesis in small-area analysis. Health Serv Res, 24(6), 741-71.

Book Chapter

  1. Volinn, E (2013). Back pain, associated disability and work loss. In G. F. Gebhart and R.F. Schmidt a (Eds.), Encyclopedic Reference of Pain. Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag.
  2. Chapman CR, Volinn E (2004). Narrative as a Window on Chronic Disabling Back Pain. In John D. Loeser, Daniel B. Carr, David B. Morris (Eds.), Narrative, Pain, and Suffering (pp. 73-84). Seattle, WA: IASP Press.
  3. Volinn E (2004). Epidemiology of work disability, back pain. In R.F. Schmidt and W.D. Willis (Eds.), Encyclopedic Reference of Pain. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
  4. Loeser JD, Bigos SJ, Fordyce WE, Volinn E (1990). Low back pain. In J.J. Bonica (Ed.), The Management of Pain, 2nd Edition (pp. 1448-1483). Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger.
  5. Volinn E (1989). Measuring pain by survey: Further issues. In C. R. Chapman and J.D. Loeser (Eds.), Issues in Pain Management (pp. 535-538). New York: Raven Press.

Report

  1. Volinn E, Fargo JD, Fine PG (Sept. 2006). Opioid Therapy for Workers with Low Back Pain Claims: Why Is It Prescribed? What Are the Outcomes?. Submitted to State of Utah, State Labor Commission, Division of Industrial Accidents.