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Researchers to address chronic pain in the community

By Sharon Gray

Two researchers in the School of Nursing are leading one part of a five-year $2.5 million project to address the issues of chronic pain management.

Theme One of this six-themed project, organized by the Community Alliances for Health Research and Knowledge Translation on Pain (CAHR), is titled From the Ground Up: Alliances to Address Chronic Pain in the Community. CAHR-pain is a Canadian research network funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to provide knowledge translation to communities in the area of pain.

Team leaders for Theme One are Drs. Sandra LeFort and Shirley Solberg from Memorial, and Dr. Thomas Hajistavropoulos of the University of Regina’s Centre on Aging and Health. Additional collaborators on the team are from all Atlantic provinces. The project will engage communities of chronic pain sufferers and families as well as providers of health care and relevant organizations in participatory action research to explore the chronic pain experience, the needs of people with chronic pain, and what services, supports and resources need to be provided.

“We will conduct an in-depth review of the scientific, policy and lay literature to identify existing resources and emerging technologies for both patients and providers of care, and best practice and models of community-based care for chronic pain,” explained Dr. Solberg.

One of the ways the researchers will do this is by partnering with the Newfoundland and Labrador Long Term Pain Association. “We will hold focus groups with people who have chronic pain and try to find out what are the issues and provide appropriate chronic pain management strategies,” added Dr. LeFort.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Long Term Pain Association is a group of people with chronic pain who are working to reduce waiting lists, increase available treatment resources and improve access to medications. The association states that more than 100,000 people in the province suffer from chronic pain and that chronic pain costs Newfoundland and Labrador an estimated $1.5 billion dollars a year, more than heart disease, cancer and AIDS combined.

Dr. LeFort said one of the goals of the project is to develop a tool kit to help people with chronic pain learn ways of dealing with it. “There’s a lot of information out there, but people aren’t accessing it.”