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New hope to those with chronic pain

Some of the nation’s leading pain experts based on the RNSH campus are set to embark on research which may change the way chronic pain is managed.

The program will be carried out by the team from the Pain Management Research Institute after generous funding from the Ernest Heine Family Foundation.

Institute Director Professor Paul Glare said more than $2,820,000 will go towards three projects over the next three years.

"Chronic pain affects 20 per cent of the population and one third of people over 65," he said.

"It is the major cause of disability, costing the Australian economy an estimated $73 billion a year.

"There’s a pressing need to develop better management strategies, so we’ll be launching these initiatives, which together have the best chance of improving the lives of those living with chronic pain."

The projects include research led by Dr Karin Aubrey and Professor Chris Vaughan to help to develop safer and more effective medications for chronic pain, while research led by Professor Paul Glare and Dr Claire Ashton-James will look to develop digital behavioural interventions to help patients alter their attitudes and behaviour in response to pain, and lower the use of potentially harmful opioid medications.

Research led by Associate Professor Paul Wrigley will explore providing better support to people with chronic pain in the community, reducing their need for emergency department care.

Associate Professor Paul Wrigley said his project ED PainPATH represented a unique opportunity to improve access to essential support.

"It will assist people to manage distressing chronic pain through a co-ordinated care program, improving health outcomes and reducing costs," he said.

"Importantly, this initiative could be adopted across the state if it proves successful."

Importantly, this initiative could be adopted across the state if it proves successful.
Associate Professor Paul Wrigley, RNSH's Pain Management Research Institute

Dr Karin Aubrey welcomed the substantial funding for her research, saying there are currently very few effective medications for ongoing pain.

"Chronic pain is challenging to treat and there’s a lot we still don’t understand about what happens in the brain when chronic pain develops," she said.

"If we can gain a better understanding of how long-term pain changes the brain, we will be in a better position to reduce it."

Professor Glare said the team were incredibly grateful to the Ernest Heine Family Foundation for the funding, particularly at this time of economic uncertainty.

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