Major research project launched to study chronic pain

Major research project launched to study chronic pain
© iStock-Igor Vershinsky

A new research project has been launched to study chronic pain in a bid to improve outcomes for the many people living with debilitating conditions.

The new research consortium and national chronic pain data hub is aiming to improve outcomes for people living with painful and debilitating conditions such as fibromyalgia, lower back pain, headaches, and migraines. The project has been made possible with a joint £14m grant from UKRI and Versus Arthritis.

For UKRI, the initiative is led by the Medical Research Council, with support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Advanced Pain Discovery Platform

The new Advanced Pain Discovery Platform will be made up of four new research consortiums as well as a national chronic pain data hub.

One of the projects is a four-year £3.8m study that will focus on the psychosocial aspect of chronic pain and will be led by the University of Bath, involving researchers from the universities of Bristol, Bath Spa, Cardiff, Keele, Royal Holloway, University College London, and UWE Bristol.

As well as studying the psychological and social factors that influence people’s experience of pain, the work being carried out by Bristol researchers will also include the use of data from the world-renowned health study Children of the Nineties.

People taking part in the study will be asked about their pain. This will help to inform the researchers of how many people are living with pain as well as the impact that this has on their daily lives including, mental health, relationships, social lives, work, and other important details. By studying how these are connected, the research team will have a better understanding of what it means to live with pain, and what could help in the management of their pain.

Professor Ed Keogh of the Bath Centre for Pain Research at the University of Bath, and consortium lead and principal investigator, explained: “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.

“Pain is a highly complex topic, and this funding will enable us to conduct transformative research. Not only does it allow us to research the mechanisms underpinning chronic pain in more detail, but it also enables us to work together collaboratively across different institutions and with colleagues across the UK. Greater understanding will ultimately help us to develop better ways of treating and managing pain.”

Rachael Gooberman-Hill, Professor of Health and Anthropology, Director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute and consortium lead at the University of Bristol, said: “We have great strengths in pain research at Bristol, and our researchers are focused on work that makes a difference to people living with pain. By working in the national project our research will help us to understand why some people have long-term pain while other people don’t. This will help us to develop ways to help people living with pain, which is the ultimate aim of our research.”

Dr Neha Issar-Brown, Director of Research at Versus Arthritis, explained: “We are delighted to be supporting Professor Keogh and colleagues to deliver this consortium as part of the ground-breaking Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (APDP).

“We know that millions of people live in chronic pain every day, a vast majority of whom have musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis. For many of them current treatments are not effective. People living with pain have told us that pain is complex and multidimensional. Research into pain needs to reflect this and understanding more about the psychological and social factors that are important in chronic pain is critical to improve our understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms, holistically, to lead the way to more innovative treatments. I’m confident that research funded through the APDP initiative will help transform the lives of people affected by chronic pain.”

To find out more about the project visit:

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