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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Marno Swart

  South Africa

  Law, Hughes Hall

  PhD thesis: Dignity, suffering and the law: An ethico-legal comparative analysis of pain management



Research interests:

  1. Medical law and ethics
  2. Reproductive law
  3. Human rights
  4. International human rights law

The title reflects that the study will analyse the consequences of physical pain as they intersect with the ethico-legal principle of dignity and the law in general. Furthermore, the title indicates that different perspectives will be compared; this refers to the different accounts of pain (clinical and historical) and the legal analysis of different jurisdictions. The study proposes to analyse whether people suffering from pain should be entitled to treatment for pain, whether a legal right to pain management/relief exists, and to critically discuss various ways a healthcare provider could be held liable for (mis)managing pain.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I am keenly interested in the developing nature of the physician–patient relationship, and specifically an approach that facilitates and enhances the autonomous decision-making of patients. My specific interest in pain and pain management came after personally suffering injuries in a fire on a farm, from which I experienced first-hand the overwhelming nature of being in pain, as well as the physical and emotional trauma associated with it.