Pauline Voon

Study program:
Population and Public Health
Current affiliation:
University of British Columbia

Pauline Voon (population and public health, University of British Columbia) is exploring how the link between pain management and addiction may affect risky drug use behaviours, health outcomes, and clinical practices and policies.

Doctoral research

Pain Among People Who Use Illicit Drugs: Implications for Health, HIV Risk Behaviours, and Clinical Care

Chronic pain is a mounting public health concern that has been paralleled by a distinct rise in prescription opioid misuse. Individuals with a history of substance use have particularly high rates of undertreated pain and high-risk opioid use. These individuals often avoid health care or self-discharge from health care against medical advice because of perceived stigma and undertreated pain. Instead, they may opt to self-manage their pain in ways that pose high risk for injury, illness and death.           

Pauline’s research aims to fill the current void in research, clinical care, and health policy by exploring the role that chronic pain, clinical practices, and health policies may play in driving risky drug use behaviours and health outcomes among people who use illicit drugs. This work is conducted with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)- and US National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Vancouver Injection Drugs Users Study, one of the world’s longest-running cohorts of people who use illicit drugs.


Pauline Voon is a Research Assistant with the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and Doctoral candidate in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. Her research and nursing practice in hospital, community, and global health settings has focused on health promotion among vulnerable populations with complex health issues such as HIV/AIDS, addiction, and chronic pain.