Self-management of chronic pain

Self-management for people with chronic pain is a key research area within HSCI. Many people of all ages in the UK and beyond are living with chronic pain. Chronic pain can affect people’s physical and psychological health. It can make it hard for people to look after themselves and perform daily activities and work, and it can hinder people's social lives, employment and relationships.

Self-management of chronic pain

We have a range of projects relating to self-management, which are detailed below.

HSCI is part of a major UK project investigating self-management in older people with chronic pain in collaboration with the University of Dundee, Northumbria University, the University of Greenwich and the University of Aberdeen. The project - Engaging with Older People and their carers to develop Interventions for the self-management of Chronic pain (EOPIC) - is funded by a £1.2m grant from the Medical Research Council's Lifelong Health and Wellbeing initiative.

One aspect of the project has identified the need for information and advice, which has led to the development of new materials specific to older people and their carers. Another aspect of the project is an exploration of the experiences of older people with chronic pain. This includes a life-logging study in which older people's day-to-day experiences are chronicled using interviews, diaries and photographs. (We use Sensecam, a camera worn by the person, which takes pictures automatically throughout the day to record what they do.)

From this, we are developing FLO Story, a ground breaking educational product funded by the Higher Education Academy, to help health and social care students and professionals better understand and appreciate how chronic pain can affect older people on a day-to-day basis. The central feature of FLO Story is the Facebook
page of a fictional character, which tells the story of an older woman with chronic pain over the period of a year. This was written in partnership with a professional author, Carol Clewlow, whose work includes plays for medical students on a range of medical conditions.

Within the theme of self-management we have developed an online feedback tool to help people with chronic pain monitor their progress in acquiring and maintaining skills that our research has shown to be important in the self-management of pain. The PASpider was developed for Pain Association Scotland, a leading provider of
support and training in self-management for people with chronic pain.

With a grant from Arthritis Research UK are currently working on the development of the Pain Garden, an online tool to help people understand the complexity of the experience of pain.