Current Studies

Below are the studies currently running within the Centre for Pain Research that are recruiting participants. If you are interested in taking part, details on how to make contact are given with each study. 

MindfulnessforMS: Online Mindfulness Training for People Living with MS 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong disease of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, affecting 2.3 million people worldwide with 9,000 of those living in Ireland. Symptoms of MS range from mild sensory problems to severe disability. The cause of MS has not been identified and, currently, there is no cure. 

The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, with support from the MS Ireland, is currently recruiting people with multiple sclerosis to take part in research evaluating the treatment programme. The MindfulnessforMS programme will provide participants with eight online mindfulness-based instruction and practice sessions. 

Dr Christopher Dwyer, coordinator of the study at the Centre for Pain Research in NUI Galway, said: “MS affects each individual differently; however, understanding how MS impacts people both physically and psychologically; and how they use the supports available to them plays a role in coping strategies for overcoming symptoms. In recent years, mindfulness has emerged as a popular strategy for psychological well-being; and research has shown that mindfulness-based psychological interventions can be used to help ease MS-related symptoms, including fatigue and anxiety.” 

Online interventions have emerged as a popular platform for such programmes, as many people have access to the internet and, perhaps more importantly, because people can log in and practice mindfulness from the safety and comfort of their own home, in a potentially cost-effective manner, without needing to schedule appointments and meet face-to-face with an instructor. 

The free online sessions within the MindfulnessforMS programme will focus on aiding participants to conduct mindfulness with respect to their observation and non-judgmental awareness of ongoing thought processes. Participants will be provided with instructions on a range of activity-pacing techniques to encourage helpful coping responses. 

NOW RECRUITING for start in September 2018

For further information or to express interest in participating, please email with your name, phone number and details of your MS 

Evaluating the ACTION Intervention for people with multimorbidity where chronic pain is a feature

The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, with the support of the Health Research Board, is currently recruiting people with chronic pain and at least one other chronic health condition to take part in a research study. The Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) trial will provide eight online sessions to people in the comfort of their own home. At the moment, such supports are scarce and generally aimed at the self-management of single specific chronic conditions, such as chronic pain alone.
Research has shown that having multiple chronic conditions, also known as multimorbidity, is associated with a number of negative outcomes, such as a decline in physical and mental functioning, a decreased quality of life and a greater risk of mortality. The ACT trial is based on emerging clinical science that demonstrates the usefulness of managing health conditions through mindfulness and psychological wellbeing.
The study is open to people all over Ireland and will take place over the coming months. GPs and other health professionals around the country are being encouraged to refer suitable people to the study.
The free online sessions in the ACT programme will focus on values and goals that are individual to each person in the trial. Participants will be provided with instructions on a range of activity-pacing techniques to encourage more consistent levels of activity from day-to-day. In addition, mindfulness techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy will help identify both negative thinking patterns and the development of effective challenges.
People who take part in the ACT trial will not need to attend any clinic or the University at any stage. All materials are tailored for those wishing to learn effective ways of managing their health conditions. Participants can access physiotherapy and all medical services as usual while involved in the trial. Study supervisor Dr Brian McGuire, NUI Galway, said: “This is a promising new online pain management programme and we are hopeful it will be of benefit to people with multimorbidity.”
For further information, please contact the research team at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, email GPs or physiotherapists who are interested in referring suitable patients to the trial can also use these contact details.

Lending an Ear: iPEER2Peer plus Teens Taking Charge online self-management to empower children with Arthritis.

Childhood arthritis is common and makes everyday activities difficult for young people. It is a chronic illness that can cause children to experience pain, fatigue and emotional upset. This makes it more difficult for children to see friends and do enjoyable activities.

When children become teenagers they start making more choices about their health care. But most teens do not learn how to take care of their arthritis on their own or get the help they need to be able to do so. Many teenagers with arthritis have also never met another teen living with arthritis. This is where online programmes and peer mentoring can help. Canadian researchers developed “Teens Taking Charge (TTC) Managing Arthritis Online” and “iPeer2Peer” to help teens learn to make decisions about their health, meet and be inspired by other young people living with arthritis. Teens who have gone through the Teens Taking Charge and iPeer2Peer programmes showed improvements in their ability to take care of their health, their understanding of arthritis and they have less pain.

The Centre for Pain Research team in 2016 worked with Irish teenagers living with arthritis, their parents and health care providers, using individual and focus group interviews; and they expressed interest in both programmes. The ‘Lending an Ear’ study will pilot test whether an integration of iPeer2Peer with an Irish version of Teens Taking Charge is something Irish teens will use and be helpful in teaching teenagers to take better care of their arthritis, (i.e., is it effective and feasible?).

The overall goal of this combined programme is to improve the quality of life of Irish adolescents with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

This project is a collaborative partnership with Dr. Jen Stinson’s team in SickKids Hospital Tornoto and key stakeholders to ensure that it will sustainable even after the research part is finished.

The Paediatric Rheumatologist to patient ratio for Irish children is the second lowest in Europe.

This project will pilot an Irish adaptation of the Canadian “Teens Taking Charge (TTC): Managing Arthritis Online” programme combined with novel peer mentoring (iPeer2Peer).

iPeer2Peer uses Skype conversations between young adults with JIA and adolescents with JIA by guiding the teens through the TTC,12 module, program. While both TTC and iPeer2Peer individually have been found to be effective in improving JIA-related knowledge and self-management, they have not been combined before. We hope in putting them together we will see even better results, as we know individual tailoring is crucial to meet adolescents’ needs more effectively.

So after ‘Lending an Ear’ (36 months starting in September 2017) the end product will be a culturally appropriate clinical tool developed in partnership with adolescents with JIA, their parents, health professionals and JIA organizations (Arthritis Ireland and iCAN), that will overcome current barriers to accessing self-management care and peer support.

So far we have recruited and trained a Young Person Advisory Panel (YPAP) who will work with us throughout the project to ensure the Teens with JIA continue to have a voice that is listening to. 

February 2018 we will be filming 4 Irish videos to add to the TTC website in Dublin and Galway.

March – May 2018 we will be recruiting young adults (18-25 year olds) who lived with JIA through their adolescence to attend a 2 day training and then receive on-going support as peer mentors for the research and possibly beyond.

Summer 2018 we will be recruiting 60 families, with 12-18 year olds teens with JIA, to work with us in a pilot Randomised Control Trail.

See our recruitment poster below

If you are interested in becoming involved in any aspect of our project please contact:


MindfulnessforMS: Online Mindfulness Training for People Living with MS