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Leeds Beckett students and staff share findings at British Pain Society Congress


A team of research students and staff from the Centre for Pain Research at Leeds Beckett University presented their work at the recent 50th anniversary of the Annual Scientific International Congress of the British Pain Society in Birmingham.

Priscilla Wittkopf and Nicola Worrillow at the British Pain Society Congress

PhD student, Sue Hartup, presented her findings, ‘Patient self-reporting and real time education to reduce the impact of persistent pain following breast cancer surgery’, in a session chaired by Professor Michelle Briggs. Sue’s PhD is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and involves the development of an electronic, patient self-reporting, real time educational and information package for persistent pain following breast cancer surgery.

Sue’s hypothesis is that this intervention will encourage patients to actively manage acute post-operative pain and reduce the incidence of persistent post-surgical pain. Sue talked about the initial findings of a study to ascertain current practice for the management of acute post-operative pain and how staff view the advice given to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

Kate Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy and PhD student, presented her research findings in a talk entitled ‘Methods of evaluating pain education in pre-registration health courses; results from a systematic scoping review’. Kate’s PhD is funded by Health Education England and is using a mixed-methods approach to critically evaluate pain education in pre-registration physiotherapy provision.

The challenge for Higher Education Institutions is to ensure that graduates are effectively educated and trained to meet the anticipated needs of patients of both current and future NHS patients. Kate talked about the methodological approach that she is using to investigate this issue. She has already published a protocol for a systematic scoping review and she presented the initial results in her talk.

 Rehab Astita
PhD student, Rehab Astita

In addition, the team presented a variety of scientific papers. These included five PhD students’ work: Sabri Garoushi’s paper on the prevalence of painful diabetic neuropathy in Eastern Libya; Priscilla Wittkopf’s paper on the effect of visually distorting the size of a body part on pain perception; Gourav Banerjee’s findings on the self-reported use of kinesiology taping in oncology and or palliative/supportive care settings; Nicola Worrillow’s paper on the hidden population of high intensity users with unresolved pain; and Rehab Astita’s study into the effect of age, sex, body location and fat percentage on the perception of innocuous and noxious contact heat stimuli in healthy participants.

Additionally, Senior Research Fellow, Dr Osama Tashani, presented two papers: one detailing his research into the prevalence of neuropathic pain in the general population of the global south compared to the global north; and one looking at sex and gender differences in experimental pain responses in Nigerian healthy participants living in the UK.

Mark Johnson, Professor of Pain and Analgesia and Director of the Centre for Pain Research at Leeds Beckett, said: “The British Pain Society’s Annual Scientific Conference attracts over 500 researchers from around the world, including medics, ‘basic scientists’, physiotherapists, nurses, and allied health professionals. It was fantastic to see so many of our research team getting through the stringent peer review process so that they could present their findings at this international conference. Presenting at the conference not only provides our students with opportunities to network but also raises their research profile across the world. 

“Our PhD students are integral to our research endeavours. We have high expectations of our PhD students and encourage them to present their research findings at international conferences at the earliest opportunity. However, presenting research at a large international conference can be daunting so we provide lots of support to prepare them for their big day! Conference delegates always express surprise when they realise that our team members are research award students and this fills me with pride. It is testimony to the quality of our students and the training they receive at Leeds Beckett.” 

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