Marcia Meldrum, Ph.D.

After getting a BA in History from the University of Minnesota in 1974, Marcia earned an MBA in Health Care Management from Boston University and spent ten years as a hospital and health care manager.  So, when she decided to return to academia at SUNY Stony Brook in the 1980s,  the history of medicine and biology was a natural field of study.  Her interest in the problem of therapeutic evaluation led to a fascination with the understanding and management of pain and mental illness.  As she  explored these problems at UCLA after receiving her PhD in 1994, it’s become clearer to her that the history of contemporary science and medicine will evaporate unless we try harder to save the resources that will inform scholars in the future.  Thus, much of her time was devoted to recording oral histories, preserving documents and building archives.  She continues to pursue these activities after her retirement from UCLA in 2021.

UCLA Psychr & Biobehav Sci
BOX 951759, CHS 33-251
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1759

Interests and overview

– History and problematics of therapeutic practices and evaluation

– History of public mental health policy and mental health care

– History of pain research and management

My research uses oral history, ethnography, and archival research to study the way in which history and culture shape the perceptions of illness and treatment and thus illness behaviors and treatment practices.  For example, chronic pain, a condition which cannot be defined by biological markers, has been framed and stigmatized in American society, through the interaction of religious beliefs, scientific theories, and the cultural valorization of energetic health.  The image of a person with pain as weak and inadequate is threaded through the statements of patients and physicians.  In other contexts, I have examined the social and economic negotiations between physicians, patients, drug regulators, and pharmaceutical marketers that define the efficacy of new drugs.


Selected publications

“Opioids’ Long Shadow, 1900-2020.”  JAMA Journal of Ethics 2020 Aug; 22 (8): E729-734.  doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2020.729

Celebrating 50 Years of Neuroscience:  A History of The Society for Neuroscience and the Quest for Disciplinary Unity.  Marcia L. Meldrum, Rena Selya and Joel T. Braslow.  (Society for Neuroscience @  Print version, forthcoming, 2021).

Sarah L. Starks, Erin L. Kelly, Enrico G. Castillo, Marcia
L. Meldrum, Philippe Bourgois and Joel T. Braslow.  “Client Outreach in Los Angeles County’s
Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program: Strategies and Barriers to
Engagement.”  Research on Social Work Practice (2020 August:  1-16) .

“The Ongoing Opioid Prescription Epidemic:  Historical Perspective.”  American Journal of Public Health.  August 2016; 106 (8):  1365-1366.  doi: 10.2105/ AJPH.2016.303297.

“Implementation Status of Assisted Outpatient Treatment Programs:  A National Survey.”  Marcia L. Meldrum, Erin Kelly, Ronald Calderon, John Brekke and Joel Braslow.  Psychiatric Services 2016 Jun 1;67(6):630-5. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2016 Feb 1.

“Provider, Family, and Client Responses to Deinstitutionalization and its Aftermath in California.”  Howard Padwa, Jack Friedman, and Marcia Meldrum.  Invited Book Chapter in Despo Kritsiakis, Matthew Smith, and Victoria Long, editors, Deinstutionalization and After:  Postwar Psychiatry in the Western World.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2017:  241-265.

“Perceived Sources of Stress and Resilience in Men in an African-American Community.”  Bowen Chung, Marcia Meldrum, Felica Jones, Anthony Brown, Rasudaan Daaood, and Loretta Jones.  Forthcoming 2014, Progress in Community Health Partnerships:  Research Education and Action 8 (Winter 2015): 419-429. 

“Preserving the Child as a Respondent: Initiating Patient-Centered Interviews in a U.S Outpatient Tertiary Care Pediatric Pain Clinic.”  Ignasi Clemente, John Heritage, Marcia L. Meldrum, Jennie C.I.Tsao, and Lonnie K. Zeltzer. Communication and Medicine 2012; 9(3):  203–213.

“Women making contraceptive choices in 20th-century America.”  The Lancet 2012 July 14; 380 (9837):  102-103.

“’The Long Walk to the Counter’:  Opioid Pain-Relievers and the Prescription as Stigma.”  In Elizabeth Watkins and Jeremy Greene, editors, Prescribed:  Writing, Filling, Using and Abusing the Prescription in Modern America.  Johns Hopkins Press, 2012:  184-206.

“Associations between parent and child pain and functioning in a pediatric chronic pain sample:  A mixed methods approach.”  Subhadra Evans, Marcia Meldrum, Jennie C.I. Tsao, Rebecca Fraynt and Lonnie K. Zeltzer.  International Journal of Disability and Human Development 2010; 9 (1):  11-21.

“‘I can’t be what I want to be’:  Children’s Narratives of Chronic Pain Experiences and Treatment Outcomes.”  Marcia L. Meldrum, Jennie C.I. Tsao and Lonnie K. Zeltzer.  Pain Medicine 2009 Sep;10(6):1018-34.