Prof. Caroline F. Pukall
Speciality: Pain Psychology
Professor, Department of Psychology, Queen’s University
Humphrey Hall, 62 Arch Street, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6
Phone: 613.533.3200; Fax: 613.533.2499
Dr. Caroline Pukall obtained her PhD in Clinical Psychology from McGill University in 2003. During her doctoral degree, she worked under the supervision of Dr. Irv Binik, applying pain methodologies to the study of vulvodynia (i.e., chronic genital pain), in particular, vestibulodynia. The goal of her work was to demonstrate differences in genital sensitivity between affected and non-affected women using methods commonly used in pain research; this goal was partly driven by the fact that many affected women reported that physicians found nothing physically wrong and implied that the pain was “in their head”.
Dr. Pukall’s research provided evidence of heightened sensitivity to touch and pain – not only in the genital area, but also in non-genital regions of the body. This and other work has helped shift the conceptualization of vulvodynia from that of a psychosexual problem to that of a pain disorder that results in psychosexual difficulties. As a result of her unique research, she has been awarded several young investigator awards from international organizations such as the International Society of the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) and the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR), and she won the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2004.
Dr. Pukall is currently a professor in the Department of Psychology at Queen’s University. Her laboratory, the Sexual Health Research Laboratory, is full of highly devoted students working on numerous projects examining multiple components of vulvodynia, including those that focus on self-reported measures of pain, psychosocial function, and relationship adjustment in affected and non-affected women and their partners; psychophysical assessments of genital and non-genital sensitivity; spinal cord and brain imaging in response to painful genital stimulation; and laser Doppler imaging of genital and non-genital blood flow.
Dr. Pukall has published numerous research papers and has presented her work at several local, national, and international meetings. As well, she has been successful in obtaining research funding from various agencies (e.g., Canadian Institutes of Health Research, National Vulvodynia Association) to support costs associated with her projects. She is actively involved in many women’s health and pain organizations, and was most recently the Scientific Program Chair for the 2008 SSTAR meeting.