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About Us

Associate Professor Emeritus Stephen J. Ziegler

Stephen J. Ziegler, Ph. D., J.D.Stephen J. Ziegler, Ph.D., J.D.

Associate Professor Emeritus 2016

You may reach Dr. Ziegler at [email protected]


  • Washington State University Ph.D., 2003, Political Science
  • Washington State University M.A, 2001, Political Science
  • Western Michigan University J.D., cum laude, 1997
  • Texas Christian University B.S., cum laude, 1991

Research Interests

Although there are a variety of ways to treat pain, and the use of opioid analgesics remains the gold-standard, it may be surprising to some that millions of people face multiple barriers in receiving needed pain relief during chronic and terminal illnesses. With both a research Ph.D. and a J.D., Dr. Stephen Ziegler’s research is directed toward examining the medico-legal barriers to the treatment of pain, preventing the abuse of prescription drugs, and exploring the complexities associated with end of life decision making, with the ultimate goal of reducing unnecessary human suffering.

With a grant from the Greenwall Foundation of New York, in 2005, Dr. Ziegler worked as a research fellow at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Zurich, Switzerland, where he studied the Swiss model of assisted suicide to explore its potential to inform the regulation of assisted death in the United States. Some of his findings have already been published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and subsequent articles that he wrote with his Swiss colleagues in journals such as the Journal of Medical Ethics and Death Studies.

The second and primary strand of Dr. Ziegler’s research program focuses on opioid (drug) regulation for its potential impact on the treatment of pain. A former Mayday Pain Scholar and a 2014 recipient of a national fellowship in pain and society from the Mayday Pain Foundation, Dr. Ziegler continues to publish and provide consultation on the topic of opioid risk management. He has been a member of several professional organizations associated with his research such as the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics; the American Society of Bioethics & Humanities; and the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI). Dr. Ziegler is currently examining state prescribing guidelines and the use, variation, and impact of dosage thresholds on the treatment of chronic pain.

Prior to obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Ziegler worked as an assistant prosecutor, defense attorney, police detective, and as a Task Force Officer for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Dr. Ziegler and his colleagues in pain medicine are featured in this brief video on the need to treat chronic pain while at the same time prevent prescription drug abuse.

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Community Service

Dr. Ziegler serves as a reviewer for several professional journals and has provided consultation on matters relating to drug and pain policy, suspicious death investigations, and prosecutions involving assisted suicide. Dr. Ziegler also gives invited medico-legal talks throughout the year on governmental intervention in prescribing and opioid risk management in pain treatment.

Selected Publications

Ziegler, S.J. (2018). Please Release Me, Let Me Go: How the Failure to Discuss and Treat OIC Can Result in Adverse Medico-Legal Outcomes. Pain Medicine (June 29, 2018). Free download available at:

Ziegler, S.J. (2015). The proliferation of dosage thresholds in opioid prescribing policies and their potential to increase pain and opioid-related mortality. Pain Medicine 16 (10), 1851-1856.

Ziegler, S.J. (2014). Pain and the Politics of Hydrocodone. Painview, 10 (1), 13-16.

Ziegler, S.J. (2013). Patient Abandonment in the Name of Opioid Safety. Pain Medicine, 14 (3), 323-324.

Ziegler, S.J. (2013). The Use and Impact of the Criminal Process on the Treatment of Pain in the USA, in Bioethics, Medicine and the Criminal Law Volume II: Medicine, Crime, and Society, Part IV, International Perspectives, Chapter 15, pp. 280-300, Danielle Griffiths and Andrew Sellers (eds.), Cambridge University Press (UK).

Ziegler, S.J. (2011). Why Don’t We Know More About Best Practices in Physician Investigations? Journal of Medical Regulation, 97 (2), 7-9.

Ziegler, S.J. (2009). Final Questions and Comments from a Physician Assisted Suicide Researcher. Bioethica Forum, 2(1), 35-36 (invited commentary printed in English, German, & French).

Ziegler, S. J. (2009). Collaborated Death: An Exploration of the Swiss Model of Assisted Suicide for its Potential to Enhance Oversight and Demedicalize the Dying Process. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 37 (2) 318-330.

Ziegler, S. J. (2007). Pain, Patients, and Prosecution: Who is Deceiving Whom? Pain Medicine, 8 (5), 445-446.

Ziegler, S.J., & Bosshard, G. (2007). Role of Non-governmental Organizations in Physician Assisted Suicide. British Medical Journal, 334 (7588), 295-298 (February 10, 2007). Free download available at

Ziegler, S.J. (2006). Increasing Response Rates in Mail Surveys without Increasing Error: A Research Note, Criminal Justice Policy Review, 17 (1), 22-31.

Ziegler, S.J., & Lovrich, N.P. (2003). Pain Relief, Prescription Drugs, and Prosecution: A Four-State Survey of Chief Prosecutors. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 31 (1), 75-100.

Highlights of Community Service

In addition to serving on a variety of departmental and university committees, Dr. Ziegler serves as a reviewer for Pain Medicine and the Journal of Opioid Management. Dr. Ziegler gives invited talks throughout the year on the topics of drug regulation and pain policy in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Ziegler's research was profiled by IPFW: