The term "pain index" has been used in the medical and health sciences for years to denote various methods for measuring different types of physical pain from a variety of sources. In social research, however, the term usually refers to a composite collection of measures that speak to the general welfare and well-being of a given population over time. There is no consensus about which measures, taken together, constitute the best index, so the recommended approach for a student doing research is to look at examples of "pain indexes" from various sources. - See the links to examples on the left sdie of this page for details.
In recent years, some of the best-known "pain indexes" have been those developed to analyze the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans and the wider area. Measures collected for this purpose have drawn upon demographic data, measures of housing supply and occupancy, social and economic data, health data, criminal justice data, among other sources. More recently, concerns about the long-term impact of Hurricane Sandy on New Jersey, and on especially the coastal counties that are the home to the Jersey Shore, have led to interest in the formulation and application of a similar "pain index" measure for this region.
The sources contained in this guide are intended to help students identify, obtain, and analyze potential "pain index" data sources, applying these to the New Orleans or New Jersey environment.