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Themed call: The management of chronic pain (2018)


Published: 03 June 2019

Version: 1.0

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Severe chronic pain has adverse effects on all aspects of general health as well as on daily life, through its effects on activities, relationships, mood, sleep and employment. Chronic pain is a complex condition that reduces an individual's quality of life, may affect their ability to work and can lead to an increased need for health and social care services.

Chronic pain is usually defined as pain lasting for longer than 3 months. In the UK the average annual incidence has been estimated at 8.3% with an average annual recovery rate of 5.4%, meaning that around 7 to 8 million people may be living with chronic pain in the UK. Many different clinical and non-clinical practitioners may be involved in supporting people with chronic pain, including general practitioners, pharmacists, anaesthetists, psychologists, physiotherapists and nurses. This highlights the wide range of different interventions that may be used in the management of chronic pain, pharmacological, psychological, physical, surgical and other forms of therapy.

A series of national pain audits was undertaken in the UK between 2010-2012 highlighting the wide variation in clinical practice, and access to specialist provision, with the majority of care being provided in non-specialist settings. As chronic pain is itself a major contributor to the burden of ill health and to long term conditions, it is timely that NIHR is initiating a new focus for research into this important issue.

Participating programmes

The following NIHR-managed research programmes participated in the themed call:

Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME)
Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR)
Health Technology Assessment (HTA)
Invention for Innovation (i4i)
Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR)
Public Health Research (PHR)
Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB)

The following NIHR research training programmes:

NIHR Research Professorships

NIHR Fellowships

HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme

Funded research

For more information on research funded in this area, please visit NIHR Open Data - Chronic pain