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Welsh researchers embark on persistent pain study

05 Feb 2024 3 minute read
A woman in pain. (CC0 Public Domain).

To help tackle this growing issue of persistent chronic pain, researchers in Wales are stepping up to embark on a study known as the Persistent Pain Project.

Persistent pain, which is often incurable, affects between 31.5% to 53% of people across the UK*, with symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to debilitating pain.

Launched earlier this month, (January 2024), the Persistent Pain Project will track participants for a two-year period — to determine the psychological and lifestyle factors that may contribute to people developing persistent pain.

Influencing factors

The researchers are currently recruiting a range of participants, including those who experience persistent pain and others which only experience occasional pain — whether it’s through migraines, sickness or injury.

Participants that experience of both levels of symptoms are necessary to understand the factors which may influence a starting point for persistent pain — with the aim of improving long term outcomes for patients.

The project has been made possible through HealthWise Wales — an online research registry and data collection platform with more than 40,000 participants, designed to enable Welsh people to influence and take part in public health research.

HealthWise Wales member and Persistent Pain Project participant, Rosemary Jones, knows more than most the importance of this research — having suffered with persistent pain since she was a teenager.

The 53-year-old from Merthyr Tydfil saw her life turned around by persistent pain. Once an active member of the community, owner of a hairdressing salon and motivational speaker for women and parents — Rosemary now struggles to leave the house.

Speaking on her experience with the condition and joining the project, Rosemary said: “Persistent pain has destroyed my quality of life and taken away a lot of the things I used to love doing. I can’t play with my grandchildren or go for the long walks anymore.

“As a community, chronic pain sufferers are often misunderstood and alienated — so when I heard about this project, I knew I had to be involved and would encourage everyone who can to take part too. It’s so wonderful to see people like me being given a voice on this topic.

“It is empowering to know that my involvement in this research will one day benefit others like me, providing them with a chance at the quality of life we all deserve.”

“An invisible illness”

Professor Ernest Choy, Head of Research for the Persistent Pain Project, said: “Everybody feels pain at some point in their lives, but we want to understand how this develops into persistent pain.”

“If we can better understand the psychosocial factors that are likely to lead to high impact pain, then we may be able to provide patients with lifestyle advice to help them avoid the worst outcomes.

“Chronic pain is an invisible illness and isn’t always given the attention it deserves, so we hope to highlight this issue to the public and the government and to help patients feel heard. I’m hopeful that this project will help everyone understand the burden of chronic pain and to support people who suffer with pain better.”

To find out more about HealthWise Wales and how to join the Persistent Pain Project, visit:

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