Internet Explorer is no longer supported by Microsoft. To browse the NIHR site please use a modern, secure browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

21/593 Pain management for children and young people (0-19 years) commissioning brief


Published: 25 November 2021

Version: 1.0

Print this document


The aim of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme is to ensure that high quality research information on the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests are produced in the most efficient way for those who plan, provide or receive care from NHS and social care services. The commissioned workstream invites applications in response to calls for research on specific questions which have been identified and prioritised for their importance to the NHS, patients and social care.

This is a brief of broader scope from which the programme is interested in potentially funding more than one proposal.

The HTA Programme is interested in proposals for the evaluation of interventions for the management of all types of pain in children and young people (0-19 years). Applicants should clearly define and justify their choice of patient group (including the specific age range), study design and outcome measures, and explain how the research will fit into the remit of the HTA Programme. Primary research, including randomised and observational studies, and evidence syntheses will be considered. Epidemiology or exploratory studies are not included within the scope of this call. We are looking for studies of interventions with a sufficient prior evidence base which show promise to positively impact the translational pathway to potentially change clinical practice.

Examples of topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Pharmacological treatments commonly used in short and long-term pain management.
  • Pharmacological management of neuropathic pain.
  • Pain management in paediatric cancer-related pain.
  • Pain management in children with life-limiting conditions.
  • Pain management in pre-hospital and out-of-hospital settings.
  • Pain management in children with comorbidities and complex needs including at the end of life.
  • Multimodal interventions commonly used in pain management.
  • Physical interventions for chronic pain.


Pain affects children of all ages, from newborn infants to young adults. It can range from short-term acute pain, through to relapsing and chronic pain. Pain can be experienced in relation to an injury, to disease, post-operatively, as part of a medical procedure or as breakthrough pain in those who already have a chronic pain condition.

A Lancet Children & Adolescent Health Commission, along with other recent systematic reviews, has highlighted a number of ongoing uncertainties about the management of pain in children and young people.

Therefore, the HTA Programme wishes to commission research evaluating interventions to improve the management of pain in children and young people, taking into account published and ongoing research in the field.  Interventions should be defined and justified by applicants and are not limited to the examples given above. 

This is a joint call with the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme, and applicants wishing to submit studies focussed on testing the efficacy of interventions for pain management in children and young people should refer to the EME call. 

The Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme also has an interest in this area and applications which fall into the HSDR programme’s remit should be made to the researcher-led workstream.

Additional commissioning brief background information

A background document is available that provides further information to support applicants for this call. It is intended to summarise what prompted the call and the existing evidence base, including relevant work from the HTA and wider NIHR research portfolio. It was researched and written on the basis of information from a search of relevant sources and databases, and in consultation with a number of experts in the field. If you would like a copy please email

Making an application

If you wish to submit a Stage 1 application for this call, the online application form can be found on the funding opportunities page. To select this call, use the filters on the right of the screen or search using the call name and/or number.

Your application must be submitted on-line no later than 1pm on the 4 May 2022. Applications will be considered by the HTA Funding Committee at its meeting in July 2022.

Guidance notes and supporting information for HTA Programme applications are available.

Important: Shortlisted Stage 1 applicants will be given eight weeks to submit a Stage 2 application. The Stage 2 application will be considered at the Funding Committee in November 2022.

Applications received electronically after 1300 hours on the due date will not be considered.

For commissioned topics, the Programme strongly discourages the practice of the same co-applicant joining more than one competing team. There may be unusual circumstances where the same person could be included on more than on application eg a lead from a named charity or a unique national expert in a condition.

For such exceptions (i) each application needs to state the case as to why the same person is included (ii) the shared co-applicant should not divulge application details between teams and (iii) both teams should acknowledge in their application that they are aware that one of their co-applicants is part of a competing application and that study details have not been shared.

Should you have any queries please contact us by email: