Jul 29 2008 Posted: 00:00 IST
Leading researchers in pain medicine and health economics at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway will supervise two Health Research Board-funded summer scholars in projects on Chronic Pain over the coming months, following a highly competitive awards scheme for summer research scholarships. Edel Smith, a second year economics and maths students and Gerard Healy, a second year medicine student will be supervised by Dr Brenda Gannon, Senior Researcher, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) and Drs Brian McGuire and David Finn, Co-Directors of the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, respectively. Efficient expenditure on health services requires detailed information on the costs of various medical conditions. The first project deals with health economics and seeks to explore the costs in one Pain Clinic in order to build a platform model of detailed costs among the most severely affected population, i.e. those attending a regional Pain Clinic. The project aims to collect data on the economic cost of chronic pain among patients attending Pain Clinics. Those attending specialised Pain Clinics tend to be at the most "chronic" end of the pain spectrum and frequently have a high level of disability and associated costs. The second project will evaluate whether variation in the psychological status of chronic pain patients undergoing an interventional pain management procedure, significantly influences the pain relief following the procedure. Chronic pain is a complex biopsychosocial phenomenon and psychosocial factors are known to influence the onset, course and response to treatment. This study will examine whether variation in the outcome of interventional pain management can be explained by pre-treatment psychological factors, such as anxiety, pain-related beliefs and treatment expectations. This research hopes to highlight the importance of optimization of a patient's psychological status prior to embarking on expensive invasive treatments and may suggest a potential cost saving benefit of multidisciplinary care for all patients in the management of chronic pain. Dr Brenda Gannon, said: "These two innovative projects will provide important data for clinicians and service planners. With the increasing need for transparency in health policy and expenditure, these projects will highlight critical health outcomes of treatments and relevant costs incurred by chronic pain sufferers. These studies will play an important role in advocacy for patients with chronic pain". The projects are being carried out in collaboration with Dr David O'Gorman, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Nancy Ruane, Pain Nurse at UCHG.