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Major new project to research chronic pain

30 June 2021

Researchers at Cardiff University are to form part of a new consortium to tackle the psychological and social factors that can influence chronic pain.

The University of Bath will lead the consortium, a four-year project worth £3.8m, which also involves researchers from the universities of Bath, Bath Spa, Bristol, Keele, Royal Holloway, University College London, and the University of the West of England.

The project is part of a wider £14m investment from UK Research and Innovation and the charity Versus Arthritis to scale up research into chronic pain. The Advanced Pain Discovery Platform will see four new research consortia and a national chronic pain data hub established.

The Bath-led consortium will study the psychological and social factors that influence people’s experience of pain. To date, understanding of their importance has been limited.

Professor Ernest Choy, from the Section of Rheumatology at Cardiff University, will set up a Persistent Pain Registry to understand how psychosocial factors impact the development of persistent pain over time.

“This research will improve the care of individuals with chronic pain by addressing the key issues around how and why it takes hold,” he said.

Consortium lead and principal investigator, Professor Ed Keogh of the Bath Centre for Pain Research at the University of Bath, said: “Chronic pain is incredibly common and can be highly debilitating. With one in five of us experiencing chronic pain, this new research funding provides a much needed and timely opportunity to understand better how chronic pain develops and is maintained.”

Researchers will focus on how people think and feel about their own pain, how other people affect their pain experiences, and the wider social and environmental influences. At each stage of the project researchers will work with and be guided by the experiences of people living with pain.

One chronic pain sufferer, Colin Wilkinson, said: “The researchers are working with people who live with pain every step of the way. That partnership means what we learn will be grounded in people’s experiences, so it’s much more powerful in pointing the way to better solutions for pain.”

More information about the project can be found here.

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